Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Czech Army prefers Puma, searches T-72 replacement and miscellaneous

In August an article on the Czech IFV program was published here. A long period of writing and more recent news from the Czech Republic have made the speculation and information on the possible contenders outdated. The Czech government asked a total of nine contenders to participate in the tender for the BMP-2 replacement. Apparently neither the Šakal IFV or the Wolfdog were considered by the army as proper replacement for the BMP-2s. The following IFVs were seen as possible replacement, which is why the manufacturers were invited to participate in the bidding process for the contract:
  1. BAE System's CV90
  2. General Dynamics European Land Systems' (GDELS) ASCOD 2
  3. The Puma from PSM, a joint venture between KMW and Rheinmetall
  4. Rheinmetall's Lynx
  5. The PMMC G5 from the German manufacturer FFG
  6. Otokar's Tulpar
  7. The Kaplan-20 from FNSS (FNSS is a joint-venture by BAE Systems and Nurol Holding)
  8. The Namer developed by the Israeli Ordnance Corps
  9. Oto-Melara's Dardo
The Italian and Israeli companies did not respond to the Czech request - or at least not until the deadline was over. It must be noted that both the Dardo infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) and an IFV variant of the Namer probably would have lost due to their performance characteristics not matching the standards set by the competitors. By current standards, the Dardo has poor armor, lacking firepower - only a 25 mm chaingun plus outdated TOW missiles - and lower mobility than the other options, while the Namer is too heavy and is fitted with an outdated powerpack, that delivers not enough horsepowers while consuming more fuel than more recently developed diesel engines. The fact that air-transportability and the compability with existing infrastructure might be factors for the purchase of a new IFV makes the Namer a very unattractive option.

The Namer was recently showcased with a new unmanned turret
It also should be noted that at the time of the tender request, the latest version of the Namer fitted with an unmanned turret had not been presented. At that time the only available infantry fighting vehicle configuration of the Namer was limited to a few prototype vehicles fitted with the Samson Mk 1 remote weapon station (RWS). This RWS is also used on the Czech Pandur IIs and features a 30 mm Bushmaster II autocannon, a machine gun (MG) and a launcher for two Spike-LR anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs). Using this RWS instead of a proper unmanned turret has one major drawback: it is essentially unarmored and can in worst case be disabled by machine gun fire, because the ammunition feed system and parts of the electronics are not covered by any sort of armor.
On the first of August the IDF presented a new IFV version of the Namer fitted with an unmanned turret specifically made for the vehicle. This infantry fighting vehicle would have been far better, but probably was still in development at the time of the request. The turret is not an off-the-shelf option from Elbit Systems or Rafael, but incorporates technologies from multiple companies and is designed by the IDF. It features two set of Elbit System's COAPS sights, the Trophy-MV active protection system from Rafael - a lighter variant of the Merkava's APS known as Trophy-2 during the development - and a relatively wide variety of armament, consisting of a 30 mm Bushmaster II chaingun, a coaxial machine gun, a pop-up ATGM launcher and an internally mounted 60 mm mortar.

The G5 PMMC was rejected by the Czech Republic
Based on the technical specifications of the vehicles, the G5 protected mission module carrier (PMMC) was eliminated before the actual testing of the offers started. It's technical characteristics - the low supported maximum weight of only 26.5 metric tons, the small 560 hp engine and the limited protection options - were too much to be compensated by the lower price point. FNSS' Kaplan-20 "new generation" armored fighting vehicle (NG-AFV) suffered from the same issues, but it also came with a big pile of potential political troubles due to the relations between the EU and Turkey being on a historically low level. Based on the latter factor, the Tulpar IFV from Otokar, which based on weight, armament and protection level might have been considered a serious alternative to the offerings from the established manufacturers, was eliminated together with the Kaplan-20 from the Czech tender.

A Puma IFV climbs a slope during the Czech trials
This meant that only four vehicles - the ASCOD 2, the CV9030 (in two variants), the Puma and the Lynx - remain in the competition. These four vehicles were tested during a longer period of time in the Libava military facility in the Czech Republic. The trials lasted a total of six weeks and included firing trials, high speed driving on roads, traveling cross-country, climbing over walls/barriers, crossing ditches, wading through deep bodies of water and other tests. The first set of static and dynamic firing trials was done against targets in a distance of 700 m, 1,200 m and 1,800 m. An exact list of tests has not been published yet. The performance data of the vehicles was gathered before proper requirements were issued by the Czech ministry of defence, which is a rather uncommon approach.
According to Czech sources, the German Puma IFV indirectly won the evaluation of the Czech Army. While at the time of testing no official requirements were released - a suggestion for possible requirements was scheduled too be send by the army to the Czech ministry of defence (MoD) at the end of August - the Puma proved its "technological dominance" as described by a the Czech website Armádní Noviny. What exactly is meant with this statement is not exactly clear, aside of the Puma apparently outperforming the other contenders. As stated by German sources, the Puma IFV managed to hit "by far" the highest number of targets during the firing trials. It seems likely that the superior level of protection of the Puma is also part of this "dominance", but it is possible that the high power-to-weight ratio in combination with the advanced hydropneumatic suspension allowed the Puma to outrun the competition during some of the mobility trials - in tests by the engine manufacturer MTU, the Puma outrun a Leopard 2 tank.

Puma IFV wading through water as part of the trials
Regardless of what the exact reasons for the Puma outperforming the other vehicles were, the Czech MoD has stated interest in buying this infantry fighting vehicle rather than one of the cheaper offerings, according to Czech websites Armádní Noviny and E15.cz. The Puma is the favored solution, but due to its high unit costs a vehicle with rubber band tracks is also considered as option; given that all three other vehicles - ASCOD 2, CV90 and Lynx - were presented with rubber band tracks, it is not clear what other IFV is meant - in theory one could also create a lighter variant of the Puma with rubber band tracks. A first meeeting was held between the German PSM and the Czech state-owned company VOP CZ to discuss details on a possible Puma purchase. VOP CZ had made agreements with all of the four final bidding companies for a possible deal regarding local assembly and production of components. Aside of PSM, the companies KMW, Rheinmetall, Hensoldt Optronics, MTU Friedrichshafen, Jenoptik Advanced Systems and Dynamit Nobel Defence were also taking part in the talks. PSM supposedly already showed technical documents regarding possible non-IFV variants of the Puma suited for the Czech Army.
The Czech  MoD has allocated a budget of up to 50 billions koruna (€1.916 billion) for the purchase of 210 new IFVs and other vehicle variants based on the same chassis with an option to later order a further 100 vehicles. This would be enough to buy 210 Puma IFVs for the cited unit price, about €7 million according to the Czech sources, but only half the bugdet is actually meant to be used on purchasing the new vehicles. The other half of the budget is meant for logistics, infrastrucutre and training, i.e.it is meant for purchasing spare parts and simulators, setting up training facilities and repair plants. This means currently the Puma is too expensive!

Puma production line in Germany
In order to deal with the high unit costs, different possibilities are examined. PSM is offering to set up a full production line in the Czech Republic, which would reduce costs (e.g. the wages in Germany are on average more than 3.5 times as large as the ones of Czech workes) and would create jobs, resulting in people paying more taxes in the Czech Republic and thus indirectly reducing costs further. All Puma IFVs for the Czech Army could be made within the Czech Republic and if desired even some of the components for the German Army vehicles could be manufactured there - currently some of the cables and sensors for the fire supression system are made in this country already.
Alternatively there is an option of getting financial support for the arms purchase thanks to the new EU Defence Fund, which were created in 2017 after first plans were made a year before. This fund has an annual size of up to €5.5 billion and can be used for research and development, aswell as arms acquisition; EU member countries can request support and submit a project, which then might receive additional money from the fund. Based on speculations on Czech-language websites, it seems that this money can only be spent on equipment from European companies - but all four companies (even GDELS in Madird) - have their headquarters in EU countries.
Last but not least, there are suggestions for buying two different vehicles at once: the Puma would then serve as IFV only, while according to E15.cz either the ASCOD 2 or the Lynx would be used for the support vehicle roles, eg. as an armored ambulance vehicle (MedEvac), as a command post vehicle, as a reconnaissance vehicle and as an armored recovery vehicle (ARV). The drawback of this approach would be the added logistics, infrastucture and training necessary for operating two new vehicle types.

3D model of the Puma's turret with MELLS launcher
In theory would be possible to make all vehicles in Germany, because the initial order for the German Army will be finished in 2020, the same year when the production for the new Czech infantry fighting vehicle is planned to start; by 2024 all new Czech IFVs should be finished according to the army's demands. In such a case the German production lines would never be closed and just continue making the hypothetical Czech Puma model, which is expected to feature several modifications compared to the German varaint (such as local radio units, a machine gun already in use with the Czech Army and other minor differences at least).
While the German Army is expected to place an order for a second batch of Puma IFVs, there is currently no projected schedule for this to happen. The German federal audit office has recommended to wait until the vehicles meet all of the original user requirements, of which many still have to be met - such as the integration of the MELLS Spike-LR launcher and TSWA secondary weapon, which has recently been contracted. Until the second batch is finished, the Marder will continue to soldier on in the German Army side-by-side with the Puma. Therefore up to 200 Marder IFVs will be upgraded with a new night vision system for the driver, a third generation ATTICA thermal imager and a variant of the MELLS launcher for the Spike-LR ATGM.

The Lynx in an IFV version in the Libava military facility
Not mentioned by E15.cz as a possible secondary vehicle to serve alongside the Puma is BAE System's CV90 family of vehicles. In a previous post, we mentioned that this vehicle offers less payload in terms of supported weight and internal volume compared to the other options, which might be the reason for not considering the CV90 as platform. Alternatively it might be related to the procurement costs; while originally designed to be cheap and reliable - the key factors that lead to its widespread adoption, the each successive version of the CV90 became more expensive after adding more technology.
A further aspect speaking against the CV90 might be the lower involvment of the local industry. While always looking for local partners, BAE Systems had kept the production of the hull in its own facilities; only the turret and several sub-components can be made by the industry in the user's country. 

The hulls of all exported CV90s were made by BAE Systems
It is worth mentioning that the CV90 is a great vehicle, but its main advantage doesn't seem to be superior performance. The fact that is has been adopted in so many different countries shows the adaptability of the design, the many different versions also show that an evolution of the concept was possible. The CV90 started its success during a time, when all major Western militaries already had designed and adpoted their infantry fighting vehicles a decade before, thus not offering new high-end solutions too compete against the CV90 on the international market. Vehicles purely meant for export, such as the Panzer unter minimalem Aufwand created by Krauss-Maffei in the 1980s, the TH-495 from Thyssen-Henschel, various main battle tanks from Vickers (Vickers Valiant, Vickers Mk 7) and the GIAT (AMX-32 and AMX-40), have a tendency of not being purchased due to potential issues with logistics, training and the availability of spare parts.
Given the military cooperation between some of the user countries of the CV90, the purchase was to some extend an avalanche - one country choosing to adopt the CV90 resulted in the vehicle having an advantage in the next trials.

Swiss CV9030CH infantry fighting vehicles without applique armor
The CV90 was chosen Switzerland after a total of eight vehicles was considered for the Schützenpanzer 2000 program, three of which - the CV9030, the Marder M12 and the Warrior 2000 - were tested during a period of six weeks in the Alpine country. The Marder M12 was an upgrade to the German Marder IFV, based on a refurbished Marder 1A3 chassis fitted with the E4 turret from KUKA.While achieving a high level of protection and featuring an excellent turret, this offer suffered from the old hull not being upgraded otherwise - the relatively primitive protection solution - spaced steel armor - resulted in a weight of 34.1 metric tons - too much for the original powerpack to keep up with the Leopard 2 (a key requirement from the Swiss Army). A Marder M12 with more powerful engine and/or more weight efficient ceramic armor would have been a better option.

CV90, Warrior 2000 and Marder M12 in the Switzerland
The CV90's hull was received with mixed feelings, some aspects were considered positive, while others were seen negatively. The small hull size was considered as advantageous for survivability - a low profile is less likely to be spotted and less likely to be hit. Also the separation of fuel from the crew compartment, not found on the other offers, and the easy to adapt add-on armor was seen as an advantage of the CV9030. This add-on armor consisted of MEXAS (ceramic) composite modules with a thickness of up to 70 mm (depending on location) and could be mounted within a few hours. Last but not least the running gear with seven roadwheel pairs (instead of six) proved to provide better in deep snow.
The small size of the hull however meant that the vehicle was cramped and ergonomics were poor compared to the Marder and Warrior variants.
The turret of the CV9030 was however the worst one offered, resulting in lower than average firepower. The problems were mostly related to ergonomics and the fire control system (FCS), which wasn't fully digitized. The FCS did not include an independent optic for the commander or a proper auxiliary sight, while relying on a single, outdated first generation thermal imager for night vision.

The Warrior 2000 IFV featured a redesigned hull mated with a turret manufactured by Delco
The Warrior 2000 performed best in the Swedish trials. Its turret - delivered by the US company Delco - was the most advanced turret on offer. Not only featuring modern sights for both commander and gunner, it also included advanced software functions such as fully automatic target tracking. The basic structure of hull and turret of the 31 tons heavy vehicle was made of aluminium, resulting in a relatively light weight given its size. Additional spaced armor - possibly simple steel - is bolted ontop of the aluminium construction for an increased level of protection. The Warrior 2000's larger size resulted in the best ergonomics of all tested vehicles.
Being a new vehicle design - based only to a very limited extend on the British Warrior IFV - the Warrior 2000 suffered from some teething issues which negatively affected the reliability of the vehicle. The manufacturer of the most advanced IFV offered to Switzerland - the British company GKN - told the Swiss Army that all these issues could be fixed, but sold its defence subsidiaries to Alvis plc, the same company that owned the CV90-maker Hägglunds and later became part of BAE Systems. Alvis plc had not much motiviation to keep two different product lines for the IFV market, which ultimately resulted in the end of the Warrior 2000.

The Swiss Army opted for the CV9030 because it offered the best price-to-performance ratio, not because it was the most capable vehicle! Unsatisfied with the original CV9030 tested by the military, a number of changes were demanded before purchasing the CV9030CH. The original engine was replaced by a larger 670 hp Scania engine meeting the Euro II emission standard for trucks, while the hull was enlarged: the hull roof at the dismount compartment was raised by 100 mm, while the vehicle was also stretched by 200 mm in order to reduce the issues with ergonomics. The rear doors were replaced by a single rear ramp for easier entry and exiting of the vehicle by the infantry squad. A second-generation thermal imager was installed into the gunner's sight instead of the outdated previous model. The FCS' computer system was exchanged and local equipment (machine guns, radios, smoke grenade launchers) were fitted to the IFV. Only forty armor kits were purchased, leaving the majority of the vehicles unprotected against medium calibre ammunition.
Further changes were planned - such as adopting a separate optic for the commander for hunter-killer capability - but deemed to be too expensive.

In 2002, Germany tested an ímproved variant of the Swiss CV9030CH, which was fitted with a more extensive applique armor kit including a mine protection plate. Germany had halted the development of the next-generation NGP vehicle family due to the recent developments in assymetric warfare and international peace-keeping/peace-making operations. The NGP was too heavy for air-lifting, being designed with a weight ranging from 51 metric tons (in the base configuration) up to 77 metric tons with a full armor kit.
Several options were evaluated, but in the end the CV9030 was rejected, ending up on the last place of all tested vehicles! The German Army considered the poor protection against anti-vehicle mines, the high weight in relation to its protection level and the low growth potential of the chassis to be key factors speaking against buying the CV90. Because none of the vehicles met the German requirements, the Neuer Schützenpanzer project was started, which reused some of the technologies and concepts of the NGP; later it was renamed multiple times - Panther, Igel and finally Puma.

The CV90 offered for the Scout-SV program
Likewise the UK tested a variant of the CV90 for the Scout Specialist Vehicle (Scout-SV) program, which itself was part of the FRES project of the British Army. BAE Systems decided to reduce the overall size of the CV90 for the Scout-SV offer in order to implement a higher level of protection. According to claims from the manufacurer, this variant of the CV90 met the British protection requirements and had a level of mine protection "equivalent to a MBT". The United Kingdom prefered to buy a number of variants of the ASCOD 2 from GDELS, despite BAE Systems being a local company - the  larger size and greater payload of the resulting vehicle being a key factor.

Why this short recapitulation of the times the CV90 was not chosen? Because its widespread adoption makes some people believe that the vehicle is inherently superior to all other options and buying something else must be related to lies and corruption. BAE Systems created a number of presentations - both in the Czech and in the English language - on the development of the CV90, its advantages and why the Czech Army should buy it instead of the other vehicles. These presentations were available in BAE Systems' online resource center, but after they have been posted in multiple forums, BAE Systems added a password protection for these files. They might not have been meant to be available for the public.

According to the documents, the fifth-generation of the CV90 is protected according to STANAG 4569 level 6 (30 mm APFSDS from 500 metres distance) ballistically and has mine protection meeting the STANAG 4569 level 4a/4b standard - a 10 kg TNT charge located under the track or the hull; this is currently the highest standardized level of mine and ballistic protection. Protection against shaped charges such as RPGs, additional roof armor aswell as active protection systems are available, but not fitted to the CV9030CZ in the Czech trials. 
According to the documents from BAE Systems - the manufacturer of the CV90 - the older versions of the vehicle provide ballistic protection equivalent to STANAG 4569 level 5 "plus" or "plus-plus", while the CV90 Mk III is the only older variant with mine protection, reaching the STANAG 4569 level 3a/3b - this is an expected level of mine protection for such a vehicle, it's the same level of mine protection achieved on the Marder 1A5 IFV and believed to be also equivalent to the that of the Bradley with the BUSK. 
While not related to the Czech IFV procurement plans, the problem remains that there is no official, standardized data for the protection levels "level 5+" and "level 5++". All that is confirmed, is that the ballistic protection requirements for STANAG 4569 level 5 are met and exceeded. A further problem is that there are different volumes of STANAG 4569  and the corresponding AEP-55 standard for the testing procedures. The earliest edition of STANAG 4569 required only protectiton against APDS in order to reach the level 5 of ballistic protection and didn't feature a level 6. The later revisions require protection against APFSDS ammo aswell. So what does "level 5+" and "level 5++" mean? Does it relate to a requirement for protection against 25 mm APFSDS ammo, because the updated standard didn't exist back then? Does it relate to a requirement for protecting against 30 mm APDS ammo or APFSDS ammunition? What exact 30 mm calibre would that be -  30 x 165 mm, 30 x 170 mm or 30 x 173 mm APFSDS? What is the range and the impact angle? Is the STANAG 4569 level 6 simply not mentioned, because it didn't exist at the time these vehicles were designed?

STANAG AEP-55 required armor coverage by protection level
One example of a vehicle exceeding STANAG 4569 level 5, but failing too reach the level 6 requirements for ballistic protection is the Austrian Ulan IFV, a version of the ASCOD with MEXAS applique armor. This vehicle is protected against 30 mm APFSDS of unknown type fired from a distance of 1,000 metres along the frontal 30° degree arc - so essentially +15° and -15° from the vehicle's centerline. While in this case the difference in frontal protection might not be very much, the difference in required side armor is much bigger. Modern 30 x 173 mm APFSDS rounds from manufacturers such as Nammo and Rheinmetall can perforate in excess of 110 mm steel armor at 1,000 metres distance, the estimated penetration at 500 metres would be somewhere in the range of 120-130 mm steel armor. A 29 mm steel plate is enough side armor to stop a 30 x 173 mm APFSDS at a range of 1,000 metres and an impact angle of 15° - effective plate thickness will nearly quadruple at this angle. STANAG 4569 level 6 requires however protection against a 30 x 173 mm APFSDS at at a range of 500 metres and an impact angle of up to 30° - therefore one needs at least a ~60-65 mm thick steel plate or more than twice as much side armor to meet the NATO STANAG requirements! In the end both BAE Systems and the Norwegian Army claim that the latest Norwegian model - on which the CV9030CZ is based - features upgraded armor protection over previously existing CV90 variants and has the highest level of protection of the vehicle versions. Photographs of the fifth generation CV90 and previous models show increased armor thickness - at least at certain places.

The T-72M4Cz is due to be replaced by a new tank
The new Czech IFV is to be manufactured in the timeframe from 2020 to 2025 - in this period of time, the Czech military also plans to replace the T-72M4Cz, probably the most capable T-72 upgrade operational within NATO, with a more capable solution in reponse to the latest Russian tank developments. According to Czech-language sources, there are only two real contenders: the Leopard 2 and the Israeli Sabra tank. The M1A2 Abrams, the South-Korean K2 Black Panther and the Japanese Type 10 main battle tank (MBT) are all in production, but too expensive - the Abrams consumes too much fuel and spare parts, while the huge physicial distance to the Asian countries would negatively affect the price of spare parts and training exchanges. The Italian C1 Ariete, British Challenger 2 and French Leclerc tanks are all out-of-production and made in very limited quantities only.
 
New build Leopard 2 tanks are likely too expensive for the Czech Republic
 The Leopard 2 should be considered the favorite option for a new MBT. The tank is in widespread use and a large number of companies - such as KMW, Rheinmetall, RUAG and Turkish Aselsan - are offering different types of vehicle upgrades. The Leopard 2 has access to various types of technology and can be offered with a number of unique advantages over the Sabra and other existing tanks, such as a long-barreled L55 smoothbore gun from Rheinmetall. With three out of the four neighbour countries operating the Leopard 2, adopting the Leopard 2 MBT would be advantageous for logistics.
However there is a big problem with funding the purchase of Leopard 2 tanks; buying completely new tanks is too expensive. But even buying older tanks and upgrading them to a decent configuration - a 1980s Leopard 2A4 will provide no real performance boost over the T-72M4Cz - might be rather costly. Czech sources speculate about using the EU Defence Fund for purchasing the tanks.
Only about a hundred tanks in a decent condition are left on the market, but aside of the Czech Republic, the militaries of Bulgaria, Croatia and Poland are interested in buying them.This could result in a bidding war, driving prices higher. Alternatively it could be possible to lease Leopard 2 tanks from another European country, but the question remains from whom the tanks would be leased. The neighbours Germany and Poland are increasing their tank fleets, thus unlikely to hand over tanks to the Czech Army.

The M60T is based on the Israeli Sabra upgrade
The Israeli industry was expected to offer the modern Merkava 4 tank, but decided - after investigating the Czech requirements and operational environments - too offer only the Sabra tank, supposedly in its latest version. The Sabra tank is an upgrade of the obsolete M60 tank, which has been adopted in Turkey as the M60T. It must be noted that while the Merkava is only operational in Israel, it has been offered to multiple other countries in the past decades, including Switzerland (early variant - either the Merkava 1 or 2) and Sweden (Merkava 3 during the 1990s); Sweden had very good relations with Israel, sharing tank technology in some cases; e.g. a Swedish delegation was insturcted on the modular armor concept of the Merkava 3, but the tank was still rejected for not being competitive compared to the European and US offers.
The Sabra is a cheaper option compared to the Leopard 2, which might provide beneficial. However due to the fact that it is made by Israeli companies, it might not be possible to use EU money from the defence fund for purchasing the tanks. Depending on variant, the Sabra can be better than the Leopard 2 - at least the old 1980s models without extensive upgrades - in terms of firepower and potentially also in regards to armor protection. It is unlikely that the Sabra can compete with more modern Leopard 2 versions in regards to performance in any important category. The upgraded M60 main battle tank is protected by hybrid armor - a combination of explosive reactive armor and passive composite armor - and sometimes also by the Iron Fist hardkill active protection system from Israeli Military Industries (IMI). The gun is replaced with a 120 mm smoothbore gun, while the Knight III fire control system from Elbit Systems allows the vehicle to be used at night, fire on the move and operate in a hunter-killer configuration. The latest version of the Sabra - the Sabra 3 - is supposedly  fitted with armor derived from the armor modules fitted to the latest variants of the the Merkava series.

The choice of the M60 as base for the Sabra upgrade is questionable. On one hand, the M60 tank is widespread and rather cheap - that's good; on the other hand however the M60 is probably one of the worst tanks for upgrading: it is already rather heavy thanks to the use of thick, but weight-inefficient steel armor, and it is one of the tallest main battle tanks, therefore installing applique armor yields less gain in protection. The tank also lacks proper compartmentation, storing the ammo inside the crew compartment without blow-off panels. The mobility of the Sabra tank is worse than that of a Leopard 2 or other modern MBT due to its poor suspension and small 1,000 hp engine, which isn't really enough for a 60 ton tank.

A light tank variant of the ASCOD 2 offered by GDELS

A further option that is being considered by the Czech Army is buying a light/medium tank based on an IFV chassis. The CV90105 and CV90120-T are well known examples of such vehicles, but there also have been different light tank variants of the ASCOD design. The Lynx could be used as a medium tank according to Rheinmetall representatives and as demonstrated by various Marder light/medium tank projects - the Marder medium tank offered to Indonesia is a prime example. Retired US Colonel MacGregor is suggesting a medium tank variant of the Puma (or an equivalent IFV) for his concept of a Reconnaissance Strike Group; he claims that the possibility of creating a Puma armed with 120 mm smoothbore gun was confirmed by the manufacturers.
The big problem is that such a light/medium tank is not a one-to-one role replacement of the T-72M4Cz; none of these vehicles has enough frontal armor to withstand impacts of large calibre APFSDS ammunition or tandem charge ATGM warheads. In so far buying such a vehicle requires changes in the training and doctrine.


Meanwhile news websites have reported more on the Polish IFV project, after various options were showcased at the MSPO 2017. According to Jane's IHS, the basic steel hull of the Borsuk IFV offers ballistic protection according to STANAG 4569 level 2 only - so essentially the same level of armor protection as the old BMP-1, that is meant to be replaced by the Borsuk. When fitted with ceramic or composite armor modules, the hull protection is boosted to level 4 ballistic protection - which is given the weight of about 30 metric tons a rather unimpressive - some 20 tons vehicle reach this level of protection, but the focus on IED/mine protection and amphibious requirements take their toll from the Borsuk's design. The Borsuk and the older Anders IFV both are fitted with hydropneumatic suspensions based on the hydrops from the British company Horstman. 
While being developed following a contract of the Polish Army, it is not decided that the Borsuk will actually enter service, which is why the Anders, the ASCOD 2, CV90 and Lynx are apparently all also offered to the Polish military.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

New Polish AFVs revealed at MSPO

At the currently ongoing MSPO 2017 defence exhibition in Poland, a number of new combat vehicle prototypes were presented for the first time to the public. These vehicles include new main battle tank (MBT) variants, the Borsuk infantry fighting vehicle (IFV), that is currently being developed for the Polish Army, aswell as various wheeled vehicles such as proposed variants of the Rosomak (locally produced Patria AMV).

The PT-91M2 is a further upgrade of the PT-91 Twardy, incorporating many features of the PT-91M Pendekar
The PT-91M2 is an upgraded variant of the Polish PT-91 Twardy tank, although some sources suggest that the T-72 left in Polish Army service might be upgraded to this new configuration. Unlike the Polish Army PT-91 model, the PT-91M2 makes used of the Sagem SAVAN-15 fire control system from the French manufacturer Safran. This is also used on the Malaysian PT-91M Pendekar, currently the most advanced PT-91 version in service with the military of a nation, and is related to the SAVAN-20 system used on the French Leclerc MBT.
The system consists of a new primary sight for the gunner, a ballistic computer and sensors for the gun stabilization and automatic lead. The gunner's optic with two axis stabilization includes a direct daylight optic with 2x and 10x magnification, a thermal imager with two magnification levels and electronic zoom, aswell as a laser rangfinder. According to the manufacturer, the SAVAN-15 fire control system offers a high accuracy with a first-round hit probability of more than 90 percent and can also be used to fire at moving targets while the tank itself is moving.

The SOD is placed above thee OBRA-3 laser warning system
The protection of the PT-91M2 is enhanced by the use of a new version of the ERAWA explosive reactive armor at the frontal arc and most of the sides of the tank. The tank is covered by a mixture of the new ERAWA-3 ERA and the old ERAWA-1 armor, though the latter ERA tiles are apparently not used on the turret frontal section. Slat armor is used to protect the rear section of the MBT against simpler types of rocket propelled grenades (RPGs). The OBRA-3 laser warning system from the Polish company PCO SA is used to alarm the crew when being targeted by an ATGM launchers or by an enemy combat vehicle. Ontop of the OBRA-3 sensors, the modules of the new SOD situational awareness system are mounted. This system is similar to Rheinmetall's SAS and the Turkish YAMGÖZ close-range surveillance system (used on the Altay), consisting of multiple modules featuring thermal imagers and/or daylight cameras to observe the surroundings of the tank.

The SAVAN-15 gunner's sight
Aside of using a new FCS, the PT-91M2 offers another firepower enhancment. It is fitted with a new 125 mm smoothbore gun, which according to a spokesperson at MSPO is more precise than the previously used one. The exact model of the gun was not disclosed at the time of writing this pasage, it could be either a KBM-1M/KBA-3 gun from the Ukrainian company KMBD Morozov or an improved version of the 2A46MS of the Slovakian manufacturer ZTS Špeciál. Due to the limitations of the T-72's autoloader design and the still quite limited pressure and barrel length of said tank guns, the PT-91M2 is still not capable of reaching armor penetration levels similar to tanks fitted the latest 120 mm smoothbore guns; this is the reason why the PT-16 and the PT-17 exist as more potent upgrade and export options.

At the right side of the rear hull, an APU is installed.
The PT-91M2 is powered by the S-12U diesel engine from the Polish company PZL-Wola. This four-stroke multi-fuel capable engine has twelve cylinders and is watercooled. At a (dry) weight just below one metric ton, it provides 820 or 850 horsepower output. In the rear section of the tank at the right side, a new auxiliary power unit (APU) is located, which has been claimed to provide an output of 8 to 10 kW. This additional power system can provide electricity for the tank's electronics even when the main engine is not running, thus reducing the fuel consumption and enhancing the PT-91M2's thermal and accoustic stealth characteristics for ambushes.

The PT-17 is a new tank variant broadly similar to the PT-16 prototype from last year.
A more severe upgrade for the T-72 and PT-91 designs is the new PT-17 main battle tank. This tank is the result of a closer cooperation between a number of Polish and Ukranian companies. While the hull seems to be still largely based on last year's PT-16's hull, the PT-17 features a new turret compared to its predecessor.
While some web-forums claim that this turret is identical to that of the T-72-120 prototype, there are several reasons to question such statements. It rather appears that some of the T-72-120 components were taken and integrated into a barebone PT-91/T-72 turret. For example the lack of roof-mounted ERA (aswell as the lack of mounting points for such armor tiles), the different shape of the add-on armor and the fact that the tank is fitted with composite armor rather than explosive reactive armor are all indicators for this not being the turret of the T-72-120 prototype. Furthermore four modules of the Obra-3 laser warning system from PCO SA are installed on the turret, which can detect the laser wavelengths commonly used in rangefinders and for laser-beam guided missiles. 

The gunner's sight of the PT-17 is made by the Polish company PCO SA
The PT-17 utilizes the same optics and fire control system as the earlier PT-16 prototype MBT. This means the commander is provided with a GOD-1 Iris sight mounted ontop a small and fixed mast on the turret, while the GOC-1 Nike serves as the gunner's main sight. The GOD-1 Iris is an independent optitc for the commander with 360° traverse, which also provides (depending on configuration) -20° depression and +60° elevation in the vertical plane. It includes a thermal camera (operating in the 8 to 12 µm wavelength), a set of daylight TV cameras and an eyesafe laser rangefinder. The digital camera offers two field of views (FoVs), a wide 10.7° by 8° field of view (WFOV) for target spotting and a near 3.3° by 2.5° field of view (NFOV) for better aiming and target identification. According to the manufacturer, these sights allow detecting tank-sized targets at 5,500 and 12,500 metres distance (WFOV and NFOV respectively), recognizing the targets at 1,800 and 4,800 metres and identifying them at up to 900 and 2,500 metres distance respectively. The thermal imaging unit provides two similar, but slightly smaller field of views: a wide 10° by 8° and a near 3.1° by 2.5° option. The ranges for target detection, recognition and identification are slightly smaller, sitting at 4,950 & 11,000 m, 1,600 & 4,800 m and 800 & 2,400 metres respectively. The thermal imager sensor array has a resolution of 640 by 512. The laser rangefinder has a wavelength of 1.54 µm and a maximum range of 10,000 metres, while its accuracy is ±5 metres. The gunner's GOC-1 Nike is fitted with the same thermal imager, day TV camera and eyesafe laser rangefinder as the commander's Iris sight.

The KBM2 tank gun is compatible with NATO standardized ammunition.
The PT-17 is armed with a 120 mm KBM2 smoothbore gun of Ukranian origin. This tank gun is chambered in the NATO standardized 120 x 570 mm calibre and has a barrel length of 50 calibres (6,000 mm), being slightly longer than the average 120 mm L/44 (M256) gun barrel. The maximum supported chamber pressure at 7,200 kgf/cm² (706 MPa) is however just average, other modern tank guns such as the Rheinmetall L/55 gun can sustain higher pressures. In order to install the KBM2 tank gun in a T-72-like turret, the recoil mass and recoil path have to be limited. This is why the smoothbore gun offers a recoil path of 260 to 300 mm, with a hard stop at 310 mm. The recoil path of a Rheinmetall L/44 and L/55 gun is slightly longer at 340 mm, which should result in slightly lowered effects from the recoil force.
The KBM2 gun is fed by a bustle mounted autoloader, which can store up to 22 rounds of main gun ammo. The ammunition magazine is separated from the crew, thus a penetration of the turret armor is less likely to result in a lethal explosion and a flying turret due to ammunition cook-off. The secondary armament of the PT-17 appears to be identical to the PT-16. Aside of a coaxial-mounted machine gun, a further MG is located in a remotely controlled weapon station (RWS). In theory this RWS can also accept a 30 mm or 40 mm automatic grenade launcher.

The PT-17 tank has a roof-mounted RWS (covered under tarp)
Like the PT-16, the PT-17 is offered with various engine configurations. The variant on display at the MSPO 2017 is supposedly powered by a S-1000R diesel engine from PZL-Wola; the same engine is also found on the Malaysian PT-91M tanks. This engine provides an output of 1,000 horsepower, but other powerpack alternatives with an output of up to 1,200 hp are also possible. In case of the PT-16, it was mentioned that engines from the German manufacturer MTU and from the Swedish company Scania can also be used on customer's demand. The engine is coupled to an unspecified German-made transmission, but it is most likely a ESM 350 transmission from SESM/Renk, which would be the same powerpack as used on the Pendekar.

Armor coverage is poor at the center of the turret.
In some aspects the PT-17 appears to be a downgrade compared to earlier Polish main battle tanks. The amount and type of smoke grenade launchers - a key reason why people believe it uses the same turret as the T-72-120 - is different from the PT-91 and PT-91M(2). The PT-17 has only two banks, each holding six smoke grenade launchers (one at the left and one at the right side of the turret), which are covered by sheet metal. Compared to the Polish and Malaysian PT-91 variants this is a clear step back; those tanks offered 24 smoke grenade dischargers spread in two groups, each group containing two banks of six grendes. The Leopard 2A5 and Leopard 2PL, the backbone of the Polish Army, both offer 16 smoke grenade dischargers, using four banks of four smoke grenade launchers.
A further questionable aspect of the PT-17 is armor protection; while probably better than the PT-91(M2) based on thickness and coverage, the tank appears to be worse armored in several aspects compared to the previous PT-16 prototype. The PT-17 is protected by Ukranian-made composite armor on the turret and unknown - probably Polish-made - applique armor on the T-72-derived hull. The new turret armor is thinner than the PT-16's armor; although it must be noted that thickness alone doesn't say anything about armor protection. However it doesn't include a composite armor module for the gun mantlet and has a very large and weird cut-out at the turret front, leaving a large zone of the tank's center with inferior protection. The new armor modules also don't extend as far back as on the PT-16, covering less of the turret sides.

The Borsuk features a dual-launcher for Spike-LR ATGMs aswell as a 30 mm autocannon.
The Borsuk is a new infantry fighting vehicle currently being developed for the Polish Army by OBRUM. First 3D renderings of the design already found its way on the internet last year. At MSPO 2017 the first prototype of the Borsuk (Polish for badger) IFV was presented to the public for the first time. The new vehicle is meant to replace the Soviet-designed BMP-1s (locally known as BWP-1) in the Polish military.
The Borsuk is one of the few modern IFVs designed with amphibious capabilities, using two sets of water blades for propulsion in water. This key requirement of the Polish Army affects all other aspects of the vehicle's design. The Borsuk has a rather larger hull with a larger UFP and a relatively high roof height, in order to provide enough buyoancy for swimming through water. Moreover the weight of the vehicle is limited to only between 24 and 25 metric tons in the amphibious configuration. In order to achieve a lower weight, the vehicle can be fitted with rubber band tracks, which save about one metric ton of weight compared to conventional steel tracks. The Borsuk is fitted with the unmanned ZSSW-30 turret from HSW, which provides further weight reductions compared to a manned turret. The vehicle is manned by a crew of three (commander, driver and gunner) and can transport a six men infantry squad.

The ZSSW-30 turret being installed on the Borsuk prototype hull
The ZSSW-30 turret is fitted with variants of the same GOC-1 Nike and GOD-1 Iris sights as found on the PT-17 main battle tank, allowing the vehicle to fight at night and in a hunter-killer mode. The main armament consists of a 30 mm Mk 44 Bushmaster II chain gun made by the US company Aliant Techsystems. This gun has a rate of fire of 200 rounds and can be altered to fire the more powerful 40 x 180 mm Super Forty round by swapping out the barrel. The turret contains 200 rounds of ready-to-fire ammunition in the 30 x 173 mm calibre, aswell as 400 7.62 mm bullets for the coaxial UKM-2000C machine gun. A twin launcher for the Spike-LR anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) is mounted on the right side of the turret, allowing the Borsuk to combat even heavily armored vehicles.

The Borsuk has a very high bow
The new Polish IFV is powered by a MTU 199TE20 six-cylinder engine coupled to an automatic transmission with four forward and two reverse gears. The Polish defence news website Defence24.pl claims that this powerpack is providing an output of 600 kW (~804 hp); however there seems to be a conversion or writing error, as MTU's own database mentions an output of only 450 kW, which is equal to approximately 600 horsepower. The Borsuk's drivetrain consists of six pairs of roadwheels and a suspension of currently unknown type.

The current Borsuk prototype lacks any sort of modular applique armor
OBRUM has not released any data on armor protection yet, however the unmanned turret is protected only according to STANAG 4569 level 2 in the basic variant. The version used on the Borsuk is fitted with bolt-on armor, which can boost the protection up to level 4 (all-round protection against 14.5 mm AP ammunition from 200 m distance). The hull of the prototype is fitted with no add-on armor modules at all and therefore might not even feature special armor on most of the surface; only the lower front plate seems to be fitted with an armor module or attachment points for such. It seems likely that the basic configuration of the Borsuk reaches only ballistic protection according to STANAG 4569 level 3 or 4 at most. The high ride of the vehicle and the belly plate are designed to increase protection against mines and IEDs, but no performance data has been revealed yet.
The Polish Army recently decided to shift the focus of new vehicles more towards armor protection, affecting the Borsuk development. Therefore an additonal armor package making use of materials such as resin and ceramic can be installed on the vehicle, boosting the weight to 30 metric tons. Active protection systems of unknown type are also considered for installation on the vehicle, though no system has yet been fitted. The vehicle is designed with a further growth potential of two additional tons.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Which new IFV for the Czech Army?

According to Jane's IHS, the Czech Army is actively looking for a replacement of the aging Soviet-made BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicle (IFV). Therefore a number of companies has been expected to bid for the contract to deliver a total of 200 new vehicles to the Czech Republic. A number of competitors has shown vehicles at the IEDT 2017 exhibition in Brno (also known as Brünn in the German speaking countries), four vehicles were later photographed during Czech Army trials. The decision on which vehicle to adopt might affect other international tenders such as the Australian LAND 400 phase 3 program.

The CV9030 CZ r (left) and the CV9030
BAE Systems has already presented a version of the Combat Vehicle 90 (CV90) IFV for the Czech Republic more than a year ago. Back then the so called CV9030CZ was nothing but the latest upgraded version of the CV90 for the Norwegian Army; while officially known to be a CV90 Mark III model, BAE Systems also referes to this latest baseline vehicle as a fifth-generation Combat Vehicle 90. The CV90 is manned by a crew of three and can transport up to eight dismounts; however most users (including all operators of the CV90 Mark III model) have used some of the internal space to transport equipment or ammo, limiting the troop transport capacity to only seven men.
A more advanced vehicle was presented at the IDET 2017 in Brno. The new CV9030CZ is also based on the current Norwegian model and has been fitted with a number of new features unique to this specific CV90 model. These include a new panoramic sight for the commander, which enables the crew to operate in a true hunter/killer mode; the previous commander's sight was fixed and thus had only a limited coverage of the azimuth. The gunner is still provided with the SAAB-made UTAAS sight.
A dual-launcher for the Spike-LR anti-tank guided missiles has been fitted to an external container on the right side of the turret. It can be fully retracted inside the container and appears to be very similar, if not identical, to the missile launcher used on Rafael's Samson Mk 2 remotely operated weapon station (RWS). The secondary armament was moved; on the vehicle presented at IDET, it consists of a Mk 52 chain gun chambered in the 7.62 mm NATO calibre, which is made by Alliant Techsystems (ATK). Removing the original coaxial machine gun frees up space for the commander's working station. Like most other vehicles demonstrated at IEDT, the main armament consists of a 30 mm Bushmaster II from ATK. A total of 160 rounds of 30 x 173 mm ammunition are loaded into the gun's dual-belt feeding system, while a further 240 rounds can be stored inside the vehicle for restocking it.

CV9030 CZ during trials: note that the Iron Fist APS has been removed!
The version presented at IDET 2017 is protected by AMAP ceramic composite armor from the German company IBD Deisenroth. It is expected to offer a high level of protection, according to BAE Systems it meets the STANAG 4569 level 6 requirement for protection against kinetic energy ammunition and STANAG 4569 level 4 against anti-vehicle mines. Previous production models offered at most level 3 protection against anti-vehicle mines (8 kg TNT charge instead of 10 kg) and a kinetic energy protection level above STANAG 4569 level 5, but below level 6.
Additional armor protection against shaped charge weapons has been offered by IBD Deisenroth (like the AMAP-X armor of the Swedish Strf 9040C) and Rafael, but this has not been fitted to the demonstrator vehicle offer to the Czech Republic. However two dual-barreled launchers for the Iron Fist Light Configuration hardkill active protection system (APS), a scaled down version of the Iron Fist APS, have been fitted to the turret. This APS uses radar antennas to track incoming ATGMs and RPGs, which then are engaged using high-explosive blast grenades.
Other CV90 models make use of different armor types. The original Norwegian and Finish CV90s were fitted with the older MEXAS armor, while Dutch CV9035 Mk III vehicles are fitted with an armor package made by RUAG, which is including MinePRO, SidePRO and RoofPRO products. Danish vehicles are believed to user a further armor package, apparently made by Tencate.

CV9030 CZ at IDET: note the udal missile launcher and the Iron Fist APS
The vehicle is fitted with rubber band tracks, that are qualified for a relatively low maximum weight of 35 metric tons, a figure which has also been quoted as the total maximum weight of the CV90 in documents from BAE Systems. The payload capacity of the current fifth generation CV90 is limited to 16 metric tons, an increase compared to earlier variants. This weight has to be used for mission specific components and packages, such as a the turret and armament, the armor package, the seats in for the dismounts, the active protection system and various other components.
While each successive generation of the CV90 has become heavier and larger by raising the roof and lengthening rear compartment, the overall useable weight and volume is still more limited compared to the other contenders. The ASCOD 2 for example has a payload capacity of 19 metric tons, three more than the CV90. The Puma IFV and Lynx KF41 seem to offer even more payload.
The Combat Vehicle 90 can be fitted with different diesel engines made by Scania. The latest version has a 810 horsepowers output, which would result in a power to weight ratio of 17 kW/t (23 hp/t), the same power to weight ratio as found on all earlier CV90 models, providing decent off-road mobility. The CV90 can accelerate to a speed of 50 km/h in 15 seconds and has a maximum forward speed of 70 km/h. The maximum reverse speed is only 40 km/h. It can cross 2.6 metres wide trenches and climb one metres high steps. It can ford through 1 metre deep rivers without preperation and 1.5 metres deep rivers after a 3 minute long preperation phase. The CV90 can climb slopes up to 30° and drive along side slopes up to 26°.

The CV9030 CZ r has a raised hull roof and an unmanned Kongsberg turret
A further variant known as CV9030 CZ r, a Combat Vehicle 90 with a raised hull roof at the turret ring, that has been fitted with the unmanned  Kongsberg Protector Medium Caliber Turret 30 (MCT-30). The gunner and commander are now seated in the raised section of the hull and their stations have received vision blocks and hatches. The MCT-30 turret is fitted with ATK's 30 mm Mk 44 Bushmaster II chain gun as main armament and a partially exposed FN MAG 7.62 mm machine gun as secondary armament. There are 150 rounds of main gun ammo (in two groups of 75 rounds) in the linkless dual feed system, while up to 600 of the MG's 7.62 mm bullets can be stored in the turret. Thanks to a hatch in the turret bottom, the ammunition can be reloaded under armor. The Mk 44 gun in the MCT-30 turret has a maximum elevation of 45° and a maximum gun depression of -10°.
The EOTS from the German manufacturer Hensoldt (originally designed by Carl-Zeiss, but the military optic segment was sold to Airbus Cassidian and then to Hensoldt) serves as the gunner's sight. It is fitted with an eyesafe laser rangefinder, a CCD zoom camera and a third generation ATTICA thermal imager. The CCD camera's sensor has a resolution of 752 by 576 pixels and can switch between three zoom stages: two times for a field of view (FoV) of 21.6° by 16.2°, four times (8° x 6°) and sixteen times magnification, the latter resulting in a field of view of 2.6° x 1.95°. The ATTICA thermal imager is available with the same magnification levels and FoVs, but with two different detectors options. The long-wave version, operating at a wavelength of 7.5 μm to 10 μm, has a 384 by 288 detector, while the mid-wave version (3 μm to 5 μm) has a larger detector resolution of 640 x 512. The effective resolution of both variants is higher thanks to the implementation of a 2x2 micro-scan. This means, the sensor is actively being moved by a small amount, two successive frames will be combined into one single output image, essentially doubling the effective resolution. Micro-scanning allows to keep the sensor size (and thus the thermal imager) compact, while providing higher quality output data. In case of the German Puma, the EOTS is fitted with a LDM 38 laser rangefinder with a range of up to 40,000 metres and an accuracy of ±5 metres - it seems likely that the same laser rangefinder is also used in this EOTS model. On top of the turret, a panoramic sight is fitted, which might be a version of Safran's Paseo - this information has yet to be confirmed.
The Kongsberg Protector MCT-30 turret has recently been adopted by the US Army on a number of upgraded Stryker ICV known as the XM1296 Dragoon, but is then fitted with a different set of optics and different secondary armament.

The Kongsberg MCT-30 turret is fitted with applique armnor and the EOTS sight
The MCT-30's basic armor meets the STANAG 4569 level 1 requirements; however the turret on the CV9030 CZ r is fitted with bolted-on applique armor and thus has a higher protection level. Unfortunately the turret - just like the Samson Mk 2 RWS - cannot be armored to the same degree as the hull. According to data from the manufacturing company, Kongsberg, the maximum protection is limited to STANAG 4569 level 4, which is understood to be shown on the CV9030 CR's turret. This means that a hit to the turret by a weapon incapable of penetrating the hull armor can easily lead to a firepower kill or a mission kill. Four dual-banks of smoke grenade launchers improve the vehicle's chances to evade enemy fire.

The ASCOD 2 fitted with the Samson Mark II RWS
General Dynamics European Land Systems has already provided the Czech Army with the Pandur II wheeled 8x8 infantry fighting vehicle, which is armed with a Samson Mk 1 RWS fitted with the Mk 44 Bushmaster II gun and Spike-LR missiles. For the BMP-2 replacement, the company is offering it's latest ASCOD 2 design with an unmanned turret. The configuration presented at IDET 2017 in Brno is based on the experiences from making the British Scout-SV Ajax vehicle and fitted with advanced applique armor; however the vehicle is not based on the exact same version of the chassis, being fitted with rubber band tracks and thus being incapable of handling the full 42 metric tons of maximum gross vehicle weight. Most likely this would limited the ASCOD 2 to 38 metric or less. Bolted-on applique armor covers the hull and turret. The side armor at the upper portion of the hull is extremely thick; it is understood to be spaced armor, which in case of the British Ajax is being used to store ammunition and/or fuel. This would enhance the crew survivability in case of an armor penetration. However there have been unconfirmed speculations that the side armor is actually a type composite armor protecting against shaped charge weapons such as RPGs - if true, it should be noted that the lower section of the hull remains exposed and vulnerable. Speaking  against this is however the fact, that the hull frontal armor seems to have the same thickess as other ASCOD 2 variants lacking the thick side armor.

Thick applique armor protects sides and front of the vehicle
The ASCOD 2 is believed to feature a very high level of mine and ballistic protection - it is estimated that the hull armor meets the STANAG 4569 level 6 standard for ballistic protection and full level 4/4a mine protection. The armor supplier is unknoown, however some of the armor of the Ajax is manufactured by RUAG. Some armor elements might be supplied by Rafael Systems, the company which already provided the RWS and the applique armor for the Czech Pandur II IFVs.
Most likely the ASOCD 2 is fitted with a MTU 8V 199 TE20 engine coupled to a Renk HSWL 256 transmission. This combination provides a 600 kW (805 horsepower) output and was recently chosen by the British Army for the Scout-SV Ajax, a variant of the ASCOD 2. It can accelerate from 0 to 50 km/h in 14 seconds and has a maximum speed of 70 km/h. The turning diameter of the ASCOD 2 is only 9.5 metres. The vehicle has the ability to ford through 1.2 metres eep water and can drive at side slopes up to 30°. It can climb slopes up to 30° slope and climb a 0.75 metre high vertical onstacle and drive over 2 metres wide ditches.

The larger ASCOD 2 offers greater payload than the CV90
The ASCOD 2 proposal relies on using the Samson Mk 2 remotely controlled weapon station as unmanned turret. It is armed with an ATK Mk 44 Bushmaster II chain gun, chambered in the 30 x 173 mm calibre. Alternatively this gun could be fitted with a larger barrel to fire the slightly more powerful Super 40 ammunition. Additionally the Samson Mk 2 RWS is featuring a coaxial machine gun and a retractable dual-launcher for the Spike-LR fire & forget ATGM.
Two separate sets of dual-axis stabilized MiniPOP optics from Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) allow the turret to be used for hunter/killer operations. The MiniPOP sight includes a CCD color camera, a laser rangefinder and a thermal imager - depending on variant the thermal imager has a 320 by 240 or a 480 by 384 detector array operating at a wavelength of 3 to 5 µm. The daysight camera offers a continuous zoom ranging from a FoV of 1.6 to 42°; likewise the thermal imager can continuous adjust the field of view from 2 to 22°.
The MiniPOP is also used on the wheeled 8x8 Pandur II IFV of the Czech Army, thus chosing the offer from General Dynamics could reduce logistic costs.

The Samson Mark 2 RWS features a dual-launcher for the Spike-LR ATGM
The Samson Mk 2 RWS has a weight of 1.5 metric tons in it's lightest configuration. Like the Kongsberg MCT-30 unmanned turret, it has a hatch in the floor to allow restocking the ammunition without leaving the vehicle. The main gun ammo is limited to 200 rounds, while the coaxial machine gun has only 230 rounds ready-to-fire. In theory the turret allows the gun to be depressed by up to -20° and elevated up to 70°, but in reality the values are expected to be lower.
The basic armor of the Samson Mk 2 unmanned turret provides STANAG 4569 level 1 protection only, but it can be enhanced to level 4 by adding applique armor. This means that - like the CV9030CZ r - a hit by a 20-30 mm gun, that would be incapable of penetrating the hull, can disable the vehicle by being a firepower kill or a mission kill.

The Lynx IFV with rubber band tracks being tested in the Czech Republic
Rheinmetall is offering its Lynx infantry fighting vehicle to the Czech Army.  The new IFV - first presented at the Eurosatory 2016 - is a big mystery candidate. The Lynx's design has undeniable similarities to the old Marder IFV, such as the general shape, the location of the driver's hatch and the noticable bulge to accommodate the turret ring in the upper front plate of the hull. The German company however claims that the Lynx is a new development, so they might have based on the Lynx on the same basic design as the Marder IFV to save time and costs, but manufactured the Lynx as a completely new vehicle rather than upgrading an existing Marder. However they might just as well have used a different definition for a "new development". It is known that Rheinmetall purchased a large number of former German Army Marders a few years ago.

The Lynx IFV was first presented on the Eurosatory 2016 exhibition in Paris
The Lynx IFV has a crew of three (commander, driver and gunner) and can transport either six or eight dismounts, depending on the exact variant. It is fitted with composite armor to achieve protection against medium calibre ammunition and artillery bomblets. Its belly plate can be fitted with an anti-mine plating kit in order to resist mines and IEDs. The company has not disclosed the exact type of armor or the possible level of protection, but Rheinmetall is manufacturing different armor solutions such as the company's own VERHA armor and the AMAP armor of the German design bureau IBD Deisenroth.
It is expected that the Lynx achieves a very high level of protection based on its weight and dimensions. The Marder 1A5 already exceeds STANAG 4569 level 5 ballistic protection and meets the level 3 standard for mine protection; the Lynx IFV, being fitted with more weight efficient composite armor and having a greater weight, is expected to be better protected than what is assumed to be its older relative. The shorter Lynx KF31 chassis can support up to 38 metric tons, while the stretched KF41 has a four metric tons higher limit (44 metric tons). Unlike some of the other contenders, it has always been fitted with an anti-bomblet protection on the roof when showcased.

The Lynx is fitted with a dampened dual-launcher for the Spike-LR ATGM
The Lynx IFV was presented at the IDET 2017 in Brno in apparently the same configuration as on the Eurosatory 2016. This means it featured a two-men Lance manned turret with a gas-operated Mauser MK 30-2/ABM main gun, which is chambered in the 30 x 173 mm calibre and can fire air-programmable ammunition. Up to 200 rounds of main gun ammo can be stored in the turret, the same gun is also found on the Puma IFV. The secondary armament of the Lynx consists of a 5.56 mm or 7.62 mm machine gun mounted in an external container. Furthermore a dual-launcher for Spike-LR ATGMs provides enhanced anti-tank and anti-helicopter capabilities; unlike the launcher found on the Samson Mk 2 RWS, the Lynx's system is dampened, allowing to store the missiles for a longer time without the vibration of the vehicle weakening the electronics of the ATGMs and increasing the likelihood of malfunctions.
Both the commander and the gunner are provided with on SEOSS sight each, which includes a third-generation Saphir thermal imager, a daysight camera and an eyesafe laser-rangefinder. This enables the crew to operate in the hunter/killer and killer/killer modes. Two units of the SAS situational awareness system provide all-round vision with an automatic movement tracking function, while a number of 40 mm ROSY_MOD smoke grenade launchers enhance the self-protection.

The rear compartment of the vehicle is fitted with enhanced roof armor to protect against bomblets
The Rheinmetall Lynx is depending on variant fitted with a 750 hp or 1,050 hp engine made by the German company ‎Liebherr, leading to a top speed of 65 km/h and 70 km/h respectively. The running gear consists of six pair of roadwheels, which are connected to a torsion bar suspsension. The Lynx has been fitted with rubber band tracks, although light-weight steel tracks are also offered as an option. Unlike the rubber band tracks from Soucy Defense, which are used on the ASCOD 2 and the CV9030CZ, the Lynx's rubber band tracks are made by DST and have a segmenented design, allowing faster maintenance and repair of damaged track sections.
The vehicle can climb over one metre high obstacles and ford through bodies of water with a depth of up to 1.5 metres. It can climb slopes up tp 30° and can drive along side slopes of more than 30°. The Lynx can cross 2.5 metres wide ditches.

The manned Lance turret is operated by a crew of two. Gunner and commander have their own SEOSS optics.
A spokesman from the company highlighted the ability and willingness to modify the design according to the user's needs. The Lynx can not only be fitted with a 30 mm or a 35 mm Wotan chain gun, but it is also capable of accepting a wide range of other weapon systems. The KF41 version with elongated chassis can even accept a turret with 120 mm smoothbore gun to serve as a light/medium tank. Likewise multiple different armor packages can be installed on the Lynx, depending on the required level of protection. The Lance turret is available in a two-men configuration or as unmanned Lance RC turret. Rheinmetall is also willing to integrate any third-party technology in the vehicle, if desired by a customer.

The Lynx is a modular design, consisting of a baseline vehicle and a mission kit. Unlike true modular vehilces like the canceled SEP and the Boxer, the mission kit has to be installed at the factory and cannot be exchanged without major work. The baseline vehicle consists of the hull including drivetrain and powerpack aswell as the ballistic protection elements of the hull. The mission kit includes its own roof section, thus allowing to adopt a turret, a rasied roof configuration or a crane for an engineering variant with ease.
A number of further options for the Lynx IFV have been mentioned by the manufacturer. Like the Boxer CRV, the Lynx can be fitted with the main sensor slaved armament (MSSA), a RWS without optics slaved to the commander's SEOSS sight. The SAS can be supplemented by a laser-warning system and an accoustic sniper location system, increasing survivability and situational awareness. The ADS hardkill active protection system can be installed to defeat ATGMs and RPGs.

The Puma is tthe new IFV of the German Army
PSM, a joint-venture between Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) and Rheinmetall, is offering the German Puma IFV to the Czech Republic. The Puma has entered service with the German Army in 2015, production to fullfill the first batch for it is still under way, while a second batch is expected to be ordered in the near future. The Puma is a high-tech IFV and therefore expected to be rather expensive. A crew of three (commander, driver and gunner) operates the vehicle, while six dismounts can be transported in the rear compartment.

The decoupled running gear reduces noise and enhances protection
The Puma is powered by a high-power density (HPD) MTU MT 892 multi-fuel/diesel engine coupled to a Renk HSWL 256 transmission, which provides an output of 800 kW (1072 hp) at up to 3,800 rpm. The MT 892 is one of the most efficient engine solutions - if not the most efficient - available for IFVs in terms of power per weight and power per volume. A 170 kW flywheel generator provides the vehicle's systems with electrical energy. The Puma is the first combat vehicle to enter service with a fully decoupled running gear and is the only vehicle offered to the Czech Army fitted with a hydropneumatic suspension. The decoupled running gear means that there is no penetration into the hull belly by the running gear, increasing the level of mine protection. PSM went even a step further by integrating all fuel tanks into the running gear elements - thus the fire hazard after armor penetration is reduced, which boosts crew survivability. Furthermore the running gear is connected to hull only via shock-absorbing fixings, which decreases the noise generation and vibrations. The ground clearance of the Puma hull is 450 mm.

The Puma's powerpack consists of a MT 892 engine and a HSWL 256 transmission
The Puma IFV has a top forward speed of more than 70 km/h and a reverse speed of up to 30 km/h. It uses light-weight steel tracks with a width of 500 mm rather than rubber band tracks, as the latter wouldn't be capable of handling the weight in the up-armored configuration. Due to the very powerfulm engine, the Puma has the highest power to weight ratio of all tested vehicles: 18.6 kW per metric ton (nearly 25 hp/ton) in the up-armored configuratiton and more than 25 kW per metric ton (34 hp/ton) in the basic variant. It can ford through 1.2 metres deep water without any preperation, climb more than 0.8 metres high steps and cross ditches with a width of 2.5 metres.
The 30 mm Mauser MK30-2/ABM gas-operated autocannon serves as main armament. It is a dual-belt fed gun with 200 ready to fire rounds; a further 200 rounds for reloading is stored inside the vehicle. This gun can fire Rheinmetall's 30 mm KETF air-burst ammunition, which is programmed using a magnetic coil. A 5.56 mm MG4 light machine gun from Heckler & Koch serves currently as coaxial armament, although it is expected to be replaced by a 7.62 mm general machine gun in the near future. The MG4 is provided with 1,000 bullets at the gun, a further 1,000 rounds of 5.56 mm ammunition are stored in the hull for restocking.
Currently the Puma still lacks the two-barreled MELLS launcher for the EuroSpike (Spike-LR) ATGM and the turret-independent secondary weapon station (TSWA), a multi-barreled grenade launcher mounted on an extendable mast. Contractsfor these weapon systems have been made in 2017, though the final integration might last a few years. The Lynx uses a slightly downgraded version of the MELLS launcher. The TSWA was originally planned to contain up to six 76 mm lethal and non-lethal grenades, but was later extended by adding a ring with 24 smaller 40 mm grenades. According to the most recent informations, the 76 mm barrels were replaced by a total of nine 40 mm grenade barrels on the latest designs. The TSWA is fitted with its own set of optics and can be operated by the dismounts, allowing the Puma to engage multiple targets simultaneously.

The secondary armament includes an independent grenade launcher at the rear of the vehicle.
With a weight of up to 43 metric tons, the Puma is heavily armored. Unlike the ASCOD and CV90, where composite armor was an afterthought, the new German Army IFV was designed for the usage of composite armor from the beginning and therefore specifically optimized for it. As a result of this, the Puma's hull is made using the Dünnblechbiegetechnologie (thin plate bending technology), where thin structural steel plates are used to form the base sturcture of the vehicle, rather than welding together several thicker armor steel plates. Given that ceramic armor can provide up to five times as much protectiton as steel, reducing the thickness of the steel structure allows to increase the protection while staying at the same weight. Furthermore bending the plates rather than welding them together reduces weakspots.
The Puma's protection follows a modular concept. In the basic variant, which is about eleven tons lighter than the fully protected model, the hull provides full mine protection (exceeding STANAG 4569 level 4) and frontal protection against RPGs, EFPs and medium calibre ammunition. The frontal protection is listed by Rheinmetall as "greater than 30 mm APFSDS" and therefore is understood to exceed the STANAG 4569 level 6 requirement. In this basic configuration, known as "protection level A", the hull sides, rear and the unmanned turret are fitted with a lighter armor package, offering protection against 14.5 mm AP ammunition only.

The Puma is designed with a modular armor package
When fitted with the "protection level C", the armor of the Puma provides all-round protection against 30 mm APFSDS ammunition (or larger), explosively formed penetratiors (EFPs) and RPGs. The protection level against KE ammunition is also achieved on the turret, preventing a firepower kill or mission kill by an AP(FS)DS round incapable of penetrating the hull (unlike the case on the CV9030 CZ r and the ASCOD 2). The roof armor is fitted with plates made of composite materials and protects against bomblets and artillery submunitions, including those types fitted with a shaped charge warhead.

Puma IFV with armor only partially mounted
To achieve the high level of protection multiple different armor solutions are combined into one package: the AMAP-B and AMAP-SC armor types from IBD Deisenroth provide protection against kinetic energy ammunition and shaped charges. According to figures provided by the company that designed this armor, AMAP-B provides up to five times as much protection per weight as steel armor against armor-piercing types of ammunition (APFSDS, APDS, FAPDS, AP, etc.). The latest version of AMAP-B utilizes nano-ceramics and therefore is capable of reducing the armor thickness in some cases; then it is possible to provide the same level of protection as an about twice as thick steel plate; traditionally ceramic armor has always been thicker or about as thick as steel armor of the same protection level, gaining the higher mass efficiency due to the low density of ceramic materials. 
AMAP-SC is understood to be a type of NERA or NxRA, which provides eight to ten times as much protection per weight as steel armor against shaped charge warheads.
Parts of the side armor of the Puma make use of the HL-Schutz Rad/Kette (formerly CLARA) explosive reactive armor (ERA) from Dynamit Nobel Defence. Unlike other types of ERA, HL-Schutz Rad/Kette doesn't use metal as part of the flyer plates, making it safe for use on armored personnel carriers, IFVs, and patrol vehicles. According to the manufacturer, HL-Schutz Rad/Kette provides more than ten times as much protection as "conventional armor" (understood to be steel armor) against shaped charges. Depending on version the HL-Schutz armor modules include an additional armor plate against medium calibre ammunition such as 14.5 mm AP rounds. The exact composition of HL-Schutz Rad/Kette is secret, but patents from the manufacturer mention rubber, fibre-composite, plastics and ceramics as possible materials for the composite flyer plates of the ERA.

RoofPRO armor can protect against DPICM bomblets with a penetration of more than four inches into steel
The hull bottom and the roof sections of hull and turret are fitted with MinePRO and RoofPRO composite armor from GEKE Schutztechnik and Swiss manufacturer RUAG. The roof armor exists in a heavy RoofPRO-P version with an areal density of 43 kg/m², aswell as a lighter RoofPRO-PL version with an areal denstiy of only 28 kg/m². It is understood that the up-armored Puma uses a variant of the heavier RoofPRO-P, including pads of rubber-spikes to disrupt the formation of shaped charge jets from artillery sub-munitions.
In order to deal with anti-tank guided missiles, the Puma is fitted with Hensoldt's Multifunctional Self Protection System (MUSS) softkill active protection system. MUSS uses combined laser warning and optical tracking sensors to detect incoming ATGMs. The system then utilizes an IR/UV jammer and multi-spectral smoke grenades (capable of absorbing lasers and hiding the thermal signature of the vehicle) to prevent the ATGM from hitting the vehicle. The British Army is testing MUSS as part of the MEDUSA program for adoption the Challenger 2 and other British armored fighting vehicles.

The EOTS is used in the Puma's WAO as the gunner's sight
The gunner of the Puma is provided with the EOTS sight from Hensoldt, i.e. the same optic as fitted to the Kongsberg MCT-30 offered on the CV9030 CZ r. The commander can independently search for targets using his PERI RTWL-B sight. Like the EOTS, the PERI RWTL-B includes a third generation ATTICA thermal imager with 384 by 288 detector elements (effective twice as much thanks to a 2x2 microscan) operating at a wavelength of 7.5 μm to 10 μm, and a LDM 38 eyesafe laser rangefinder with a maximum range of 40,000 metres. It offers the same magnification levels and FoVs as the EOTS. The PERI RTWL-B also includes a CCD camera and an optical sight, which transports the image via a fibre-optical channel to the commander. The advantage of an analog optical connection is a much higher resolution - according to the famous German lens manufacturer Zeiss, it offers an effective resolution of more than six megapixels - this is about fourteen times as much as the average military grade CCD camera!
For enhanced situational awareness, five cameras are mounted on the rear section of the hull; they can be accessed by all crew members and by two members of the infantry squad. The Puma is fitted with the Thales SOTAS-IP  digital communication system aswell as with the SOLAR 400 V radio.

The Puma has still to receive its missile launcher
Admittedly the Puma does not come without its problems. Aside of the huge price per vehicle, PSM has yet to release information on possible non-IFV variants; while the Czech Army has not announced the need for any recovery vehicles, light tanks or APC variants based on their future IFV hull, most other contenders such as the ASCOD 2, CV90 and Lynx have in the past showcased non-IFV versions in form of 3D CAD data or prototypes.
That said, the two companies responsible for developing the Puma, KMW and Rheinmetall, should have enough experience to design any desired future variant based on the Puma hull - in the end Rheinmetall should be able to adapt all the Lynx versions to the Puma's hull.
The integration of the MELLS missile launcher for EuroSpike, i.e. the Spike-LR ATGM, is still under way. Likewise the turret independent weapon station has yet to be adopted, but prototypes and integration of both weapon systems has been recently ordered by the German Army, after the budget was finally approved by the government. Furthermore the upgrade contract will include enhancements to the situational awareness in form of adopting Rheinmetall's situational awareness system (SAS) and new flatscreen displays.

While the previously mentioned four vehicles have been photographed during testing, there was a larger number of vehicles speculated or rumored to be offered to the Czech Army. At IDET 2017, it was claimed that the Czech Army still had to release official requirements and hence it is still possible that a larger number of contenders might be considered. It is not known (at the time of writing this passage) if the situation has changed. 
Depending on how much local industry involvment, costs and capabilities are rated, a number of other vehicles still could make the run against the four big IFVs offered by BAE Systems, General Dynamics, Rheinmetall and PSM.


The BMP-MECXA aka Šakal is an upgrade of the BMP-2
In theory the cheapest option to replace the BMP-2 would be an upgraded variant thereof. In the first moment that might sound odd, but in general the state of the Czech BMP-2s is quite bad, not having been modernized by any noteworthy degree.
The Czech company Excalibur Army spol. s ro has developed the Šakal IFV in cooperation with other Czech and Slovakian companies. The vehicle was originally known as the BMP-M2 or BVP-M2 SKCZ and developed mainly for the export market, however video footage shows that it has taken part in various Czech military exercises and apparently was tested by the Czech ministry of defence. Recently the vehicle has been marketed as the BMP-MEXCA.

Additional slat armor and passive armor can boost the ballistic protection to STANAG 4569 level 4
The biggest drawback of this vehicle is the low level of armor protection; its welded steel hull and spaced applique armor provides ballistic protection equivalent to STANAG 4569 level 4 at the frontal arc - this means it is at least protected against 14.5 mm B32 armor-piercing ammunition fired from a range of 200 metres, but not against larger threats such as 25 mm  and 30 mm AP(FS)DS ammunition. The side armor is protected according to STANAG 4569 level 3 only, being designed to resist 7.62 x 51 mm tungsten-cored rounds form a 30 metres distance. In general armor protection is not much better than on the original BMP-1 and BMP-2. Mine protection is limited to STANAG 4569 level 1 for the hull belly and level 2a under the tracks. However it seems very likely that, despite the limited growth potential of the old BMP-2 components, a better protected variant of Šakal could be made. Excalibur Army had developed an upgrade for the MGC-14.5 armored personnel carrier (APC) prototype a few years ago, which enhanced the protection level well beyond the Šakal/BMP-MEXCA. This vehicle had passive armor to meet the requirements of STANAG 4569 level 4 for ballistic protection, while the mine protection plate and decoupled seats meet the level 2 requirements. A combination of slat armor, reactive armor (covering the small turret) and APS (covering the rear door) provide all around protection agianst simple RPGs such as the most basic RPG-7 rounds (i.e. PG-7, PG-7M and PG-7V). Such a vehicle was offered by Exicalbur Army as the BMP-M1 CZ.
The German armor design bureau IBD Deisenroth once offered to adapt its IFV Evolution concept to Greek BMPs. This survivability concept consists of adapting various types of AMAP armor and the ADS active protection system to protect an IFV against KE ammunition, EFPs, mines, IEDs, RPGs and ATGMs. In theory the same system could be offered for the BMP-MEXCA.

The TURRA 30 is an unmanned turred from EVPÚ
In most cases, the Šakal was showcased with a TURRA 30 unmanned turret made by the Slovakian company EVPÚ. This is an unmanned turret is armed with a 30 mm gun, a coaxial machine gun (MG) and a dual launcher for anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs). The turret has eight smoke grenade discharges located in four groups of two. The computerized fire control system includes modern optronics for commander and gunner, which feature thermal imagers. At Eurosatory 2014 another variant of the BMP-M2/Šakal was demonstrated, this time fitted with the Samson Mk II RWS from the Israeli company Rafael. This remote controlled weapon station (RWS) was chosen by the Lithuanian Army for the Vilkas, a version of the Boxer multi-role armored vehicle. It includes a 30 mm autocannon - usually the Mk 44 Bushmaster II chaingun from ATK - a coaxial machine gun and a retractable dual-launcher for Spike-LR ATGMs, which is however not dampened. Alternatively Excalibur Army is offering the DVK-30 one-man-turret as upgrade option for the APCs and IFVs, which is a low profile turret with the weapon station in overhead mount. This turret can be fitted with either a 30 mm CZ30 or 2A42 autocannon and provides storage for 300 rounds in the dual-feed system of the gun (100 rounds of one type and 200 rouinds of another type). As seconary armament a 7.62 mm machine gun with 1,650 bullets is used. Six 81 mm smoke grenades and the welded steel armor capable of resisting 14.5 mm AP ammo in the frontal arc and 7.62 mm bullets all-around provide protection against incoming fire. The fact that the DVK-30 turret has only a crew of one, the poor armor protection aswell as the limited gun depression from -4° to +50° make the DVK-30 a worse option than both the TURRA 30 and the Samson Mk II unmanned turrets.

Šakal fitted with Samson Mk 2 RWS
The biggest advantage of the Šakal is the greater degree of local industry involvment compared to all other options. While - with the potential exception of the Puma IFV - all offered vehicles are understood to include a cooperation with the local industry, the amount of involvment of the Czech industry seems to be reduced to a small amount. BAE Systems for example always manufactures the CV90 hull, but allows the local industry to provide several components (such as computer systems, roadwheels and storage boxes) and to make the turret under licence. General Dynamics allowed most of the Pandur IIs for the Czech Army to be made locally, while Rheinmetall has shown its willingeness to accept licence production agreements in Algeria and Poland.
The Šakal is however far from perfect, even including the hypothetical versions mentioned earlier. Even though the Šakal uses new rubber band tracks and a more powerful engine, it won't be able to handle much additional weight; the BMP-2's growth potential is too limited, being further enhanced requires to start/continue the development of new suspension elements, new powerpacks, etc. and/or buying foreign technology. Even when accounting for a Šakal variant with the upgraded MGC-14.5/BMP-M1 CZ armor, the vehicle would only provide the same level of protection as the already existing wheeled Pandur II IFV operated by the Czech Army. Not only being unable to handle as much weight as the other vehicles, the BMP-2 hull also offers less useable volume. In order to compensate this fact, Excalibur Army used to offer a version of the BMP-M2 Šakal design with a 500 mm raised roof at the driver's and crew comparment.

According to Polish sources, the PMMC (protected mission module carrier) G5 from the German company Flensburger Fahrzeugbau Gesellschaft (FFG) might also be offered as option for the BMP-2 replacement. Meant as a low-cost of the M113 armored personnel carrier (APC), the PMMC G5 makes use of many off-the-shelf components including some parts of the M2 Bradley. The PMMC G5 has a semi-modular layout, allowing the vehicle to be reconfigured for different missions by swapping out mission modules; in the basic concept this is similar to the Boxer multi-role armored vehicle (MRAV). The PMMC G5 has an empty weight of about 18 metric tons and has a maximum gross vehicle weight of 26.5 metric tons, thus offering 8.5 metric tons for the adoption of an add-on armor package, a weapon station, or a mission specific package. It has been claimed to have a high level of built-in protection against mines and IEDs (impovised explosive devices). In some cases the G5 has been showcased with homogenous armor, but it also has been fitted with spaced armor and with ceramic composite armor.
The G5 is fitted with a 550 horsepower MTU MTU 199 TE21 engine in a six-cylinder configuration. The slightly larger eight cylinder version is used on the British Scout-SV Ajax. Coupled to a LSG 1000 HD automatic transmission from ZF Friedrichshafen AG, the engine is able to accerlate the PMMC G5 to a top road speed of 74 kilometres per hour. The internal tanks hold enough fuel for a road range of 1,000 kilometres.

The FFG PMMC G5 in the scout variant
On IDEX 2017 a version of the G5 was showcased by FFG, which seems to be suited for use as infantry fighting vehicle. The vehicle is fitted with Dynamit Nobel Defence's FEWAS 30 remote weapon station armed 30 mm Mk 44 Bushmaster II chain gun, a coaxial machine gun and a dual-launcher for the Spike-LR ATGMs. This turret appears to be a licence-made version of the Samson Mk 2 RWS from Rafael. The version at IDEX was fitted with lightweight rubber band tracks, which reduce the noise generated during travel. A front-mounted camera system enhances the situtational awareness. Protection is provided by a mast-mounted laser warning system from Elbit Systems, located on the rear section of the hull, as well as applique composite armor, which is expected to reach at least ballistic protection in accordance with STANAG 4569 level 4.
The APC variant of the G5 is claimed to be able to transport twelve men including the three of crew; an IFV variant is expected to carry only eleven men (driver, commander, gunner and eight dismounts). Thanks to it's large internal volume of 14.5 m³, the ambulance version of the PMMC G5 is currently competing against several wheeled options for adoption by the German Army.

Zetor Engineering is offering the Wolfdog. Note the missing missile launcher on this model
The company Zetor Engineering, a newly founded subsidiary of the Czech tractor manufacturer, has presented first scale models and a mock-up of a cross-sectiton of the new Wolfdog IFV design, that the company plans to offer to the Czech Army. The vehicle is meant to be manned by a crew of three and transport up to eight dismounts. Ontop of the hull, an unmanned turret of unknown type will be mounted. It is not clear wether Zetor Engineering intends to design an own turret or plans utilizing an yet unnanounced turret made by another company. Alternatively the current turret design might be just a placeholder.

The Wolfdog is armed with an autocannon, two machine guns and an ATGM launcher
The turret includes three identical set of optics, each apparently containing a daysight camera, a thermal imager and a laser rangefinder. The gunner's sight is fixed to the turret front, while the commander is provided with an independent optic unit, that provides 360° traverse. A further identical optic is mounted in a remotely operated weapon stations - this is rather uncommon, because usually the RWS in AFVs is operated by either gunner or commander (in MBTs sometimes the loader is meant to operate the RWS, but there is no human loader in an IFV). With the RWS' optics and the commander's sight both identical, it seems reasonable to assume that the RWS of the Wolfdog is operated by the gunner or by a soldier belonging to the infantry squad; the latter would enable the Wolfdog to engage multiple targets simultaneously, while at the same time having proper hunter/killer capabilty - other than the Wolfdog, only the Puma (once fitted with its TWSA) is capable of doing that.

The Wolfdog follows a conventional IFV layout with front-mounted engine
The Wolfdog IFVis meant to be equipped with a 800 kW engine connected to a gearbox with six forward and six reverse speeds; the company has not disclosed which exact powerpack will be used, but the description would match the Puma's MT892 engine with Renk HSWL 256 transmission; however one should not rule out the possibility of Zetor Engineering planing to use another powerpack made by Scania or other manufacturers. The running gear of the new IFV design utilizes seven pairs of roadwheels to spread the weight evenly along the tracks. They are connected to a hydropneumatic suspension, that can allow to alter the ground clearance of the vehicles as optional feature. An auxiliary power unit with unknown output provides the vehicle's systems with energy when the engine is turned off. The top speed of the Wolfdog is quoted as 70 km/h, tthe vehicle can carry enough fuel to travel a 600 kilometre long distance. According to current projections of the vehicle's performance, the Wolfdog can cross 1.2 metre deep bodies of water and climb 0.895 m high vertical obstacles. It can drive at up to 32° side slope and climb 30° slopes.

The main armament of the Wolfdog consists of an unspecified autocannon. The vehicle can accept a wide variety of different weapon systems ranging from a small RWS (when used as APC) to a 120 mm gun in case of a light/medium tank variant, which however wouldn't carry an infantry squad. Aside of the autocannon a dual-launcher for anti-tank guided missiles is located at the right side of the unmanned turret, while a coaxial machine gun is located left of the main gun. A RWS with a 12.7 mm heavy machine gun sits ontop of the turret.

The welded steel hull of the vehicle is fitted with modular add-on armor
At 38 metric tons in the basic configuration, the Wolfdog is heavier than the offered variants of ASCOD 2 and CV90 Mark III, aswell as Lynx and Puma IFV in the baseline configurations. One would expect a matching or greater level of protection then - however according to the manufacturer, the Wolfdog's armor offers only ballistic protection according to STANAG 4569 level 4 and 5, i.e. no protection against 30 mm anti-vehicle rounds and bigger threats. The vehicle can be fitted with additional applique armor sets to reach various different levels of protection. The frontal armor can be boosted to resist 30 mm APFSDS ammo in order to meeting the STANAG 4569 level 6 requirements, while passive armor can be added to resist RPGs with single stage warhead. Active protection - understood to be either explosive reactive armor or an active protection system - would allow the Wolfdog to resist RPGs with tandem shaped charge warhead such as the RPG-29. A further armor package to protect the frontal arc against 40 mm and 57 mm munitions has been suggested, but not yet developed. The maximum gross vehicle weight of 49 metric tons would certainly allow using a lot of additional armor.


Cross-section mock-up of the Wolfdog IFV. Notte the spaced floor plate aswell as the spaced roof armor.
The huge weight of the Wolfdog in relation to its protection level is concerning. While arguably being about the same size as the Puma - the Wolfdog has a slightly longer hull, but is neither as tall nor as wide as German Army's IFV - the Wolfdog achieves a lower level of protection in the standard configuration despite having an extra six tons of weight. Zetor Engineering has not revealed any partners or technology suppliers, but rather has shown a mock-up of the Wolfdog's cross-section, which only showed steel and spaced armor; this might mean, that the Czech company decided to develop and utilize its own armor technology, which is unable to achieve the same protection level per weight as modern solutions from the market leading competition. If true, then the Wolfdog designers have made a huge oversight, dimishing the chances of the locally designed IFVs to be chosen over its European rivals.
The roof armor of the Wolfdog appears to be spaced steel - the same type of armor was used on the old Marder 1A3 back in 1988 - which should provide protection against artillery fragments from close ranges. The composition of the thick side armor modules is unknown, however the sponsons are empty and can be used to store ammo or other equipment inside them, which would reduce casualities in case of armor penetration. A total of four hatches allows accessing the interior of the sponsons. The double-layered floor plate of the Wolfdog meets the STANAG 4569 level 4 protection against mines and IEDs, which is currently the highest standardized threat class. However it also appears to be made out of steel only based on the mock-up. A composite belly plate would allow a significant weight reduction.

There are numerous further IFVs in the European market, that in theory could be offered to the Czech Army. E.g. one of them them is the Anders, which has its origins in Poland, however it is questionable that it would be offered for the Czech IFV tender. Last year the Anders IFV was presented in an upgraded configuration, but there weren't any further news on the vehicle. Apparently the vehicle was meant to compete against the Borsuk IFV, the development of which is currently being funded by the Polish government; recently it was announced that the Borsuk will be redesigned with heavier armor protection. The development of the Anders was supposedly finished and it is in theory offering an acceptable level of protection - at least STANAG 4569 level 5 ballistic protection once fitted with applique armor.