The Swedish, by  Land Systems Hägglunds developed, CV9035 Mk-III Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) is chosen to be the new war-chariot of the Royal Netherlands Army (RNLA) mechanized infantry force. On Friday 29 October 2004 Dutch Parliament was informed about this decision by Cees van der Knaap, State-Secretary of Defence.

After redistributing and relocating its operational units the RNLA will consist of two rather than three mechanised brigades (Mechbrigs), in addition to the 11 Air Mobile brigade (Air Assault). Although, by establishing an additional mechanised infantry battalion the readiness capability (‘more teeth to tail’) and combat strength of the two remaining Mechbrigs will even be strengthened. After upgrading the remaining 110 Leopard 2 A5 MBT’s to the A6 version the RNLA is now in the midst of replacing its YPR-765 and M-577 combat infantry vehicles.

2 out of 3: From the outset the requirements set by the RNLA were extremely demanding to provide Dutch infantrymen, when they’re in harm’s way, with an weapon system that insures an overmatch by increasing the ability to acquire, identify, and engage, in both day and night operations. Requirements of which the YPR-765 and M-577, though still in service, are no longer capable of meeting. Both vehicles have reached the technological end of the line. 

The ‘Fennek’ light armoured 4×4 wheeled Reconnaissance and Utility Vehicle is one type of vehicle that partially will replace both aging vehicles. Of this type, 208 vehicles will be introduced in the short term.

The CV9035 Mk-III is the second type of vehicle. The upcoming contract – worth € 891 million – which is subject to customary parliamentary approval, comprises an order for 185 vehicles together with associated logistic support. The initial contract is for 1 qualification vehicle, 150 vehicles in the IFV version and 34 in the CV90 Forward Command Vehicle version, which is a mobile combat C3 (command, control and communications) vehicle equipped with advanced communication and command equipment. The first seriesvehicles will be delivered in 2007 through 2010. 

Additionally the RNLA seeks for a large armoured 8×8 wheeled vehicle. Until recent all eyes were focussed on the, world’s probably best-protected, armoured personnel carrier the ‘Boxer’, also known as GTK or AMRAV. This vehicle is at the prototype stage for the RNLA and German Army. This project was the accession of the Netherlands (in 2000) to the OCCAR equipment agency. The Boxer project was the admission ticket. But the decision by the United Kingdom to withdraw from participation in the trilateral project has put a serious question-mark over its future and compels the Netherlands to review its participation. Its now also looking for other of the shelve alternatives such as the Mowag Piranha IV and Patria AMV. A total of 257 vehicles of this type are needed to harden the C2, combat support and combat service support of the RNLA mechanized formations.

Mk-III: The CV9030 Mk-II was tested by the RNLA during extensive evaluation tests and in-country trials in arduous conditions in 2003. Based on the technical performance demonstrated in these trials and on its overall cost-effectiveness against a stringent set of whole life criteria, the RNLA decides to order the latest member of the CV90 family, the CV9035 Mk-III. This is a third-generation IFV derived from the Mk-II and is created by compromising proven techniques with evolving technology. The Mk-III features considerably enhanced firepower, survivability, mobility, ergonomics and electronic system capability over its predecessor. The vehicle weighs 32 tons (gross combat weight) but it has a stretch potential to 35 tons. It was shown publicly for the first time at Eurosatory 2004.

Survivability: Improved survivability has been achieved through the high level of ballistic protection developed for the new armour package of the Mk-III. The armour protection is to be effective against antitank mines (blast mines) and projectile forming mines and should be able to withstand antitank mines containing up to 8 kg of explosives. The frontal arc armour is designed to protect the vehicle and crew against 30mm armour-piercing ammunition. Furthermore, the vehicle features all-round protection against 14.5mm armour-piercing rounds and the effects of artillery fragments. The top-side armour provides a high level of protection against top-attack weapons such as bomblets. Moreover, if the growth potential option is used, it can be very quickly fitted with optional, although still under development, “Chemical Energy” add-on protection kits for future threats. The RNLA intend to order about 100 of the current “Kinetic Energy” basic add-ons with the vehicles. This to have the flexibility to later gain protection against rocket-propelled grenade (RPG-7) attacks.

Hunter/killer: A stealthy turret design gives the complete vehicle system excellent detection avoidance. The basic turret is electrically operated and features a complete gun stabilisation system, an eye-safe laser range finder, automatic dual target tracking, automatic gun target adjustment, automatic sighting and a rotating commander’s cupola with independent viewer that speeds targeting acquisition for the commander and gunner. Enabling the Mk-III with so called hunter/killer capability. In this the target is detected and tracked by the commander and then handed over to the gunner, who carries out the engagement. Further the Mk-III is equipped with an array of advanced optic and optronic observation and target sensors. Both commander and gunner occupy decoupled redundant positions in the turret and have fully stabilised day/night sights and third generation thermal imaging device as well as the help of built-in, high-resolution CCD daylight cameras. The Gunners Saab Tech UTAAS sight and the Commanders sight are implemented into a advanced digitised fire-control system of the Mk-III. This improved acquisition system allows the crew to engage targets faster and more accurately by enabling first burst on target, eliminating the need for a sensing round. The vehicles communications suite enables digital information displays for the commander, gunner, driver and squad leader. Moreover, the vehicle is also equipped numerous other devices such as Hägglunds’ third generation vehicle control and information system. This software is prepared for the integration of command, control, communications, computers and intelligence system, combat identification and other third party software. It is based on fully integrated, scalable and open electronic architecture and a video network with displays at each crew station. The extensive BITE (Build-In Test Equipment) system with interactive technical manuals improves the CV9035 sustainability and availability thus reducing the logistic support cost. Further the BITE system gives the possibility to reduce the training cost as it works as a built in Computer Based Trainer.

Ergonomics: The Mk-III carries a crew of ten: the driver, the gunner and the commander as well as a seven-man Infantry-section in the rear fighting compartment. A modified chassis hull provides optimised ergonomics in combination with a high protection level. The side-wall suspended seats and interior features of the vehicle are designed to protect the crew in case of brutal vertical acceleration due to the effects of landmine detonations. More than ever now, mine protection is also part of the mobility concept. It ensures that none of the occupants get seriously injured as otherwise the medical services with ambulances and even Medevac helicopters would have to be called in with all the resultant delays. The Infantry-section will be able to carry different loads of equipment and extra weapons depending on task. Camera-supported situation imagery and direct sight make the tasks of the riflemen on board far easier. The men in the rear fighting compartment will have access to the same information as the commander and gunner. This means that the infantry section will be much better able to observe the battlefield and engage close-in targets. They will be able to dismount and execute their mission with a clear picture of what’s going on outside.

Armament: The main armament is the advanced 35/50mm Bushmaster III automatic cannon manufactured by ATK Alliant Techsystems, with a computerised fire control system incorporating an ammunition programmer manufactured by Oerlikon. This gun normally fires 35mm ammunition but can be upgraded to 50mm. Although, development of the 50mm version, and its associated suite of ammunition such as the 50mm Supershot, is not complete yet. The Bushmaster III has a single barrel featuring a very high rate of fire, is long-lived and meets the highest ballistic requirements. It has an dual feed mechanism (70 rounds at the weapon, distributed 35/35 and 133 stowed) and remote ammunition selection. Either 35mm Armour Piercing Fin Stabilised Discarding Sabot with Tracer (APFSDS-T) or the currently under development Air Burst Munition/Kinetic Energy Time Fuze (ABM/KETF) ammunition may be selected with the flick of a switch. Both ammunition types are developed and produced by the German-Swiss company Oerlikon Contraves Pyrotec (a subsidiary of Rheinmetall DeTec). The ABM/KETF round contains a programmable time-delay fuse. This round is basically a reinvention of Shrapnel, brought up to date. The shells contain a cluster of tungsten-alloy pellets ahead of a burster charge. After the velocity of the projectile in the barrel is measured, the delay setting is calculated and each round inductively programmed at the muzzle of the barrel with data from the fire control computer. It then sets a time fuze on the shell by electronic impulse as it leaves the muzzle. The shell is timed to be initiated just before it reaches the target, sending a cone-shaped spray of pellets towards the target, like a huge shotgun blast. The ABM/KETF is capable of effectively addressing a wide spectrum of modern battlefield threats, including armoured vehicles, field fortifications containing antitank guided missile systems, troops occupying uncovered fighting positions and (attack) helicopters. The ability to fire ABM ammunition was demonstrated during recent trials. The Gunner may select from single or multiple shot modes. It also has an anti aircraft mode, using the laser range finder at “pulse fire” mode. The standard rate of fire of the gun is 200 rounds per minute.  Furthermore, apart from the automatic cannon, a 7.62mm machine gun is mounted coaxially with the main armament for engaging light targets and providing close quarters defence and this has increased elevation up to 50 degrees for urban warfare situations.

Mobility : The Mk-III is an extremely agile vehicle that has the speed and performance to keep up with Leopard 2 A6 MBT’s during fast-moving combat operations through marshes, snow and over the most inhospitable terrain and hostile combat environments. As a result, the speed factor gains new significance as an aspect of battlefield protection. The diesel engine, designed for a maximum output of over 595 kW/810 hp is developed by Scania. The engine is a standard truck engine with mark DSi 16, 16 litre V-8 eight diesel complying with exhaust emission Euro 4, digitally controlled. The vehicles low compact profile, low infrared signature, low radar signature and low engine noise makes it a perfect “sneaker”. Its improved integrated suspension unit offers high performance hydraulic damping, proven reliability and assures considerably smoother drive characteristics. The engine is equipped with an automatic fire extinguisher system, while the fighting compartment is fitted with a fire and explosion suppression system and full nuclear, chemical and biological protection is provided. It also has an increased environmental capability with upgraded A/C and heater systems. Caterpillar’s UK-based subsidiary Perkins will supply the X300 fully electronic controlled automatic transmission. The vehicle is easy to maintain, and is constructed with field maintenance in mind. The driver has 166 degree of vision with overlapping periscopes. He also has night capacity with a night periscope.

DAS : To protect the Mk-III from possible attacks from handheld antitank weapons like the RPG-7, RPG-9 and RPG-18, it’s equipped with Hägglunds defensive aids suite (DAS) which contains laser warning receivers integrated with smoke grenade launchers and aligning the main weapon with the threat. The main armament is linked to the DAS software. Thanks to its sensor systems, it can detect incoming antitank guided missiles, light antitank projectiles and other combat vehicles using the laser range finder. With the help of Softkill infrared decoys, the system is capable of successfully blinding infrared sensor head-guided weapons, deflecting them from the target, i.e. the CV9035. The self-protection system consists of a laser warning system, a central computer and pyrotechnical dispensers (e.g. smokegrenades). After a warning has been received, the central computer automatically performs timely selection of the most effective self-protection countermeasure.

Pacesetter: The Dutch programme could be seen from the outset as a pacesetter for a third generation of IFVs armed with a 35/50mm armament capable of serving well into the 21st century. Until so far the Dutch are the only one who made the 35/50mm gun a primary requirement. The same happened in the seventies when the Dutch choose for a 25mm calibre gun on the YPR-765 instead of a 20mm calibre armament. Which was at that time the international standard, the same as the 30mm is today.

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