During the next several months, the European military-vehicle industry
will be watching closely a French and a British competition for
new armored reconnaissance trucks, expected to be used in peacekeeping
operations and low-intensity conflicts.
Last March, France’s procurement agency, the Delegation Genérale
pour l’Armement (DGA), awarded four contracts for the Petit
Vehicule Protégé (PVP), or light protected vehicle
The competitors include three French firms—Soframe/Lohr,
Auverland and Panhard—and a British company, Vickers Defence.
Vickers officials said they were particularly pleased to have been
selected, because it is rare for any major French military procurement
to include foreign firms.
The PVP program may involve up to 1,500 vehicles. Each competitor
was expected to submit a prototype this month, in preparation for
September trials. A contract award is scheduled for 2003.
The PVP will be a rapid-deployment vehicle—transportable
by helicopter—that can travel on any type of terrain, with
significant off-road use. There will be two variants—infantry
and command post—and each will carry a crew of five. It must
provide ballistic protection for the crew and the engine. The French
government also required that the PVP candidates be derived from
existing vehicles or at least have commercially available subcomponents.
Panhard’s PVP prototype is based on a DaimlerChrysler 4x4
chassis. The company has been supplying tactical wheeled vehicles
to the French Army for many years and is well known in the industry.
Panhard & Levassor was the first in France to manufacture an
internal combustion engine in 1876.
Vickers’ offering is the so-called RG-32M, a mine-proof 4x4
truck based on an existing vehicle that was modified to meet the
French requirements, said Tim Burleigh, a Vickers executive.
The same truck also was one of five platforms selected for the
British future command-and-liaison vehicle, which will replace the
Ferret light 4x4 scout truck equipped with a machine gun. The United
Kingdom will spend at least $250 million on 422 vehicles, to enter
service in 2006.
The future command and liaison vehicle (FCLV) project will be used
by the U.K. Army for reconnaissance tasks, which were originally
performed by the Ferret. A production contract for FCLV could be
awarded in March 2004. The trials have been completed.
Christopher F. Foss, armor and artillery specialist at Jane’s
International, said that the FCLV will have to be survivable against
small arms, artillery fragments and anti-tank mines. It will carry
a heavy machine gun, will have thermal imaging sensors and will
be transportable on a C-130 or A400M air lifter. It also will be
compatible with the U.K. Ministry of Defence’s Bowman digital
Besides Vickers, the other contenders for the FCLV award are Insys
and Alvis Vehicles Ltd., which is proposing two different trucks.
Foss reported last month that Vickers and Alvis, which are owned
by Rolls Royce, are expected to merge in the near future.
Insys is the prime contractor for the U.K. biological detection
Meanwhile, other vehicle manufacturers—which are not part
of the FCLV or the French PVP competitions—recently unveiled
new rapid-deployment vehicles, hoping to attract international customers.
Automotive Technik Ltd., is marketing a new variant of the German
Pinzgauer tactical truck, currently in service with the British
Army. The revamped Pinzgauer features a low-profile superstructure
comprising a rollover protection hoop and a removable support structure.
It is transportable on a Chinook helicopter.
The new trucks will cost approximately $100,000. Saudi Arabia and
other Middle Eastern nations have placed a large order, said a company
spokesman. The Pinzgauer also is competing in a light logistics
truck replacement program in Hungary.
The spokesman noted that the Pinzgauers now being sold have engines
that comply with the Euro III emissions standard, which is roughly
equivalent to the 1998 U.S. EPA standard. The Euro III has been
mandatory since 2001.
After 2006, European vehicles must comply with a much more stringent
standard, the Euro IV.
David Elmes, director of business development at Caterpillar, said
that the Euro III is slightly more stringent than EPA ‘98.
The Euro IV is scheduled to take effect in 2005.
A growing demand for lighter, mobile tactical vehicles and the
tightening of the emissions standards are forcing engine manufacturers
to adapt, Elmes said in an interview during the 2002 Eurosatory
For lighter vehicles, he said, “We tend to use smaller engines.”
But he added that the technology still has a ways to go before it
can deliver high performance and low emissions in small packages.
For many combat vehicle programs, the requirement is for the engine
to be Euro IV compliant, Elmes said. In the United Kingdom, for
example, the requirement is for the engine to be compliant to whatever
standard is in place at the time the vehicle is fielded. “That
gives us a moving target,” Elmes said. “It has a big
impact on the cooling system and everything else.”
Foss noted that European vehicles mostly used to have Detroit Diesel
engines. “Now, they are going to Caterpillar or Cummings.”
He does not foresee that Europeans will adopt military hybrid-electric
systems in the near future. “Germany has been working on it
for a long time,” said Foss. But the issue is “how you
take it into production.”
In anticipation of stricter emissions regulations and evolving
customer demands, Caterpillar developed a new technology that is
not quite a hybrid-electric drive but, the company claims, drastically
improves the efficiency of the engine.
The system is called MorElectric. “It’s not a hybrid
electric, but it’s going a long way towards it,” said
Elmes. The ancillaries on the engine are driven electrically, as
opposed to mechanically. “The only thing that it’s not
doing is actually driving the vehicle, but it’s driving everything
else,” he said.
The MorElectric is scheduled to go into production in 2004 for
U.S. commercial truck companies. “The technology is commercial,
but can be leveraged for the defense industry,” said Elmes.
“This is a mature technology,” he said. The system
fits in the existing engine hole, so the upgrade is relatively simple,
The U.S. truck industry was the target customer for MorElectric,
The MorElectric system will provide heating, cooling and accessory
power—including battery charging—without idling the
engine. Idling a truck engine when the vehicle is parked is a common
means of providing cabin heat or cooling while a driver sleeps or
does paperwork. This practice uses fuel inefficiently, increases
engine maintenance, creates additional exhaust emissions and generally
increases operating expenses.
With this technology, a flywheel generator/starter provides electrical
power to drive several accessories on a “flow-on-demand”
approach. Some of the first accessories chosen to be converted to
the electrically driven system are the HVAC, air compressor and
oil and water pumps.
Caterpillar developed MorElectric in a partnership with Kenworth
Truck Company, Engineered Machined Products Inc., and Emerson, under
contract to the U.S. Department of Energy.
The program started in 2000, when the Department of Energy launched
a 42-month $4.4 million research effort to develop technology for
heavy-duty on-highway trucks that would save fuel and reduce emissions
through electrically driven engine accessories.
The demonstration/prototype truck designed under this program is
expected to result in fuel savings ranging from 9 to 18 percent.
The technology will be commercially available in 2004.
In the MorElectric system, the engine will drive a large generator.
The generator, which will double as a starting motor, will provide
power for electric motors driving accessories that currently are
mechanically powered by the engine, via belts or gears. Such a system,
says Caterpillar, would allow flexible vehicle design, because accessories
would no longer have to be located in or on the engine.