Eurosatory 2016 has just happened1, and let’s take a look at some of the big ticket items. Specifically, let’s look at a new IFV from Rheinmetall.
I’ve written a lot about IFVs, and what’s clear is that there are a lot of different variations on the theme. Different armies want different things, and it seems nobody quite agrees with me (and my conceptual Borgundian army). Let’s see what Rheinmetall has to offer.
Unlike the Puma, the Lynx is a private venture aimed squarely at the export market. So they’ve had to keep costs under control, and develop for one of many armies. Or not–they’ve actually gone and made several different options that you can select from in the Lynx. The base chassis, under all the new stuff, is the same as the Marder 1 IFV. This is an older IFV design, but it’s functional. This saves on some testing, and allows a cost saving option if you can get your hand on some used Marders. The Marder is 1970s vintage tech, but it was a well-protected IFV in its day. And the Leopard 2 and M1 Abrams are both also 1970s vintage, and are still great choices with upgrades. Why shouldn’t the Marder 1 be?
That said, just about everything else is new. Engine, armor, sensors, weapons, suspension. And unlike the Marder, or any other IFV, there are options! We’ll look at what options are available, and then go over what we’d pick. Rheinmetall plans to expand this into an entire family of midsize armored fighting vehicles, but for now we just have the two IFV options.
First of the options is size and dismounts. The clever men of Rheinmetall have developed two versions of the Lynx: the KF31 and the KF41. The KF31 is 7.2 meters long, weighs 38 tonnes, and holds six dismounts. It has a 755 hp engine, so it should have no trouble keeping up with your MBT of choice. Here, you’ve basically got a Puma. Granted, it should be cheaper than a Puma, and it lacks the quick attach/detach armor kit, but otherwise it should meet the same combat profile and provide the same high-end sensor and protection levels as Puma. Cool.
The other size option is the bigger KF41. It’s 7.7 meters long2, weighs 44 tonnes, and holds eight dismounts. Eight! Be still my beating heart. Plus, they redid the suspension design to take the added weight on the KF41, and put in a 1,050 hp engine, so it should still be able to move well. Both the KF31 and the KF41 have blast-resistant seating for all nine or eleven occupants. Both versions, of course, have a crew of three.
Both also have similar turret options in the Lance turret, which is a COTS project. A Lance variant was used in the British Ajax AFV. The Lance turret is available in an unmanned configuration or a manned configuration, and both are available on either Lynx variant. If you want to have the commander be able to stick his head out of the turret, you can. If you want the crew isolated from the ammo, you can. The two man turret does have some reasonably effective ammo isolation, but the unmanned one is going to be better in that regard. You can also choose your gun: the Lance can be equipped with a 30 mm or 35 mm autocannon. Regardless of which size you choose, the Lance is designed to accommodate two ammunition types in a dual feed system, and has all of the electronics and shell-programming systems in place to handle airburst rounds if you so choose. The Lance turret also has the same great optical suite as the Puma, with modern thermal viewers for the commander and gunner, plus obligatory laser rangefinders. The commander’s sight is independent, of course, and is configured to be ready to synchronize to a remote weapons station. Just add RWS.
As a brief aside, while the Germans do not make such a gun, if you’re interested in the 40mm CTWS, that shouldn’t be too hard to fit to the Lance, since that’s what the British used in their Ajax.
But wait, there’s more. The Lance turret has a coaxial machine gun, in proper 7.62×51 mm caliber, unlike the Puma. Plus, it’s got an automatic barrel change mechanism with three barrels to keep up that sustained fire, since it’s not easily accessible in either the manned or unmanned turret versions. Further, the Lance turret can be fitted with a two-tube launcher for the Spike LR ATGM. Unlike the Puma though, where this has been claimed for a while but keeps getting delayed, this was mounted on the Eurosatory display model. You can have your ATGMs now with Lynx!
Protectionwise, Lynx is loaded up with the latest composites, and matches the levels of Puma at protection level C. It’s not easily removable though, so it doesn’t have that slightly better than normal strategic mobility of the Puma. OF course, that assumes that you not only have Pumas, but that you have a bunch of A400ms that work, and no one does yet. A stripped down Puma is still too fat for midsize airlifters that actually function like the C-130J.
The turret also has the usual smoke grenade launchers, plus plenty of cameras, just like Puma. No active protection system (hard kill or soft kill) is fitted though. You’d have to select one to add.
The display model at Eurosatory was the KF31, with a two-man turret, 35 mm gun, and ATGMs fitted. Built for the show, and looked great. Plus, got a lot of attention too. I know Rheinmetall will be entering the Lynx in the Land 400 competition, and I wish them the best of luck. No word yet on what they’re entering though, or what the Aussies have asked for.
What about Borgundy? Well, it should be obvious that yes, we’d totally buy this. I don’t have pricing information yet, but I might be able to scrounge something up or guesstimate. Anyway, we’d order the KF41 with an unmanned turret packing a 30mm gun and the ATGM launcher. 30mm because that should do whatever support job we ask of it and we get more rounds. ATGMs because duh. Eight dismounts because that’s a full squad, and unmanned turret for the extra survivability. We’ll just need to add the active protection system of our choice.
1. (I hope we aren’t giving the impression that we’re rich or famous enough to be there. Yet. -Ed.)
2. I’ve long thought that adding about half a meter or so of length to an existing six dismount design would give me eight dismount capacity, and would be a worthwhile improvement to the FV510 Warrrior or the M2 Bradley.