JULY 2023 | TECHNOLOGY REPORT | UGVs
KMW has displayed two new mission modules for the 8x8 Boxer armoured vehicle, one housing a Patria NEMO 120mm mortar turret, and the other equipped for launch and recovery of multiple UAVs for short- and long-range reconnaissance.
Above: This Boxer 8x8 MRAV is fitted with a Patria 120mm NEMO mortar turret which has indirect and direct fire capabilities. (Photo: author)
KMW and Rheinmetall, partners in the ARTEC consortium which produces the German Boxer 8x8 Multi-Role Armoured Vehicle (MRAV), are both continuing to expand the roles that the vehicle can undertake.
This is facilitated by the rear mission module which can be rapidly removed to enable the vehicle to be re-roled, although it is understood that this feature has not so far been adopted by any current Boxer users.
Boxer has now been shown by KMW fitted with a Patria 120mm NEMO turret-mounted mortar system which is already in service with Saudi Arabia installed on a GDLS Canada Light Armoured Vehicle and the UAE Navy on a costal craft.
It will also be fitted to a batch of specialist vessels recently ordered by the Swedish Navy from Swede Ship Marine so the 120mm NEMO turret production line will re-open.
For this variant, KMW is quoting a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of 38.5t with a maximum crew of five. Around 40 120mm mortar bombs can be carried with a maximum rate of fire of up to 10 rounds a minute.
The second new Boxer module is for a dedicated reconnaissance version which is said to be capable of close and long-range missions using UAVs and fitted with a digitised communications system.
According to KMW three long-range UAVs would be carried and these have a flight time of between 40 and 90 minutes when electrically powered or up to 240 minutes using a combustion engine. Maximum range is up to 100km. The UAV displayed by KMW mounted on the vehicle appears to be a Stromkind STR-50.
Above: This Boxer is dedicated to the reconnaissance role with a long-range UAV on the roof ready to launch and a Milrem Robotics THeMIS UGV fitted with a Thales GO12 ground surveillance radar in the foreground. (Photo: author)
More than 20 short-range UAVs would be carried with a flight time of between 15 and 30 minutes with a maximum range of up to 3km. According to KMW these can be launched and recovered on the move.
In addition to the UAS the Boxer reconnaissance variant could be used in conjunction with Milrem Robotics' THeMIS UGV which features a hybrid drive system and was shown fitted with a Thales mast-mounted Ground Observer 12 surveillance radar.
To expand Boxer's capabilities KMW is working closely with other contractors. Alongside Milrem and Thales and these include Eviden for digital transformation, ATM for information and processing systems and communication connections, Stromkind for UAVs and Kymati for UAS landing sensors.
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The USMC has witnessed demonstrations of the system and will conduct trials with the vehicle this summer.
Above: Rheinmetall's Mission Master SP is a low-profile autonomous UGV. (Photo: Rheinmetall)
The US Marine Corps (USMC) has been seeking autonomous and robotic ground capabilities to be operated by its soldiers worldwide and will test the Rheinmetall Mission Master SP UGV.
Speaking to Shephard, Louis Harnois, director of business development at Rheinmetall Canada, explained that the USMC has witnessed demonstrations of the system and will conduct trials with the vehicle this summer.
‘The USMC will test MM SP during the Exercise Talisman Sabre in Australia in July-Aug 23. They will also conduct autonomous convoying at 29 Palms (California) in late October,’ Harnois noted.
The Rheinmetall Mission Master SP is a low-profile autonomous UGV (A-UGV) engineered to provide assistance and reduce danger to dismounted soldiers in a range of missions, including high-risk situations. Its low-signature electric motor enables deployment in scenarios requiring stealth and agility.
Built for forward and last-mile resupply missions, silent watch operations and carriage of light payloads, it is a compact and highly mobile platforms.
The SP system is part of Rheinmetall Mission Master family of UGVs. These vehicles were built to be modular and fulfil a range of logistics and battlefield support roles, including battlefield surveillance and reconnaissance, communication relay, fire support, CBRN detection, cargo carrier and medical evacuation.
Each variant of the Mission Master can work with the others and exchange data. Harnois pointed that those platforms provide several operational advantages to SOF teams such as stealth and silent manoeuvrer, amphibious capability, advanced autonomy features and easy transportability.
All Mission Master modules are designed to be quickly and easily interchanged and come preconfigured on a sturdy plate, ready to be bolted and plugged into the base platform within minutes.
The UGVs of this family are driven by the Rheinmetall PATH autonomy kit (A-kit), which enables AI-powered autonomous driving and navigation in a variety of modes.
Other Mission Master variants include the XT (engineered to carry heavy payloads) and the CXT (designed to accompany troops in challenging environments) variants.
Apart from the USMC, other US services have also evaluated Mission Master platforms. The USSOCOM has conducted trials involving personnel from the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) while five US Army bases have received 10 SP UGVs to perform exercises in subterranean and GPS-denied environments.