By Paolo Valpolini
Well known for its wheeled armoured vehicles, Patria’s Land Business Uunit is also active in other areas. One is definitely that of turreted mortars: following its cooperation with BAE Systems on the AMOS 120 mm twin barrel system, it developed on its own the NEMOS, a single barrel solution that can be integrated onto lighter chassis and acquired by customers with “lighter” wallets, compared to the twin-barrel option, one of them being carrying out firing trials just at the time when Eurosatory would have taken place, demonstrating that also the land version of the NEMOS can execute firing-on-the-move as its naval equivalent already did. Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) is another key area, the company ensuring life-cycle service for its legacy products while in Hämeenlinna the production plant is active in modifying Leopard 2 MBTs into bridgelayer vehicles, something Patria did even before the tank original manufacturer. Let’s however come to the company core business, armoured wheeled vehicles.
“We have several good opportunities ahead of us,” Jussi Järvinen, President of Patria’s Land BU tells EDR On-Line. “Our AMVXP 8×8 has been shortlisted in Bulgaria, where we submitted our offer in December last year, the evaluation being ongoing now, and we expect a decision before year end,” he explains. Customer budget is around 600 million Euro, for a total of 150 vehicles, Patria working together with Elbit Systems that would provide its 30 mm manned turret. Remaining in Europe, the Finnish and Slovak ministries of defence worked on an R&D programme that was concluded in 2018, and one prototype was produced and delivered to that central-European country; “Last spring a new government was issued from the elections, and the 8×8 acquisition programme is currently under scrutiny at the MoD, Patria being ready to support it,” Järvinen says.
Not much can be said about Japan; following the shortlist, announced during DSEI 2019, Patria started working on the two prototypes requested by the Japanese Self Defence Forces, the Finnish company planning to ship the two vehicles before year-end, for the planned two-year testing phase, a decision being awaited in 2023. “We at Patria are continuously developing our AMVXP 8×8 solution, especially in terms of protection, working also with third party experts in that field, as well as in terms of payload. We are ready to answer customers’ requirements, tailoring them to their needs. Following some requests we worked on plans, and we can now add active protection systems to our vehicles,” the President of Patria’s Land BU tells us.
While the AMV 8×8 vehicle is now in service in many armies around the world, the new-born in the Patria family, the Patria 6×6 which development started in 2016 and that was unveiled at Eurosatory 2018, will soon become a common vision in the Baltic countries, following the agreement between the Estonian, Finnish and Latvian Ministries of Defence who aim at developing a common armoured vehicle system, which will be based on the new Patria product. “Finland and Latvia signed the agreement in January 2020, followed by Estonia in April, and the three nations aim at starting a common R&D programme that will lead to a common armoured vehicle system, with several different vehicle variants,” Jussi Järvinen explains. At the moment Patria is in negotiations about the R&D programme with the three nations, led by Finland. For the common vehicle system also requirements need to be aligned, and this is proceeding very well. Designed to be an easy vehicle to drive, which EDR On-Line could test on the field during a test at Sodankylä in December 2018, the vehicle had some immediate evolutions, the second prototype featuring some major changing compared to the first one, which we could witness during a visit to the company Land Business plant in Hämeenlinna. “We have currently four prototypes, improvements having been done on each of them, but the last three vehicles are pretty much the same, the main differences being really between P.1 and P2,” he explains.
Back to the three-nation programme, according to Jussi Järvinen Latvia is the nation that has publicly announced its need for vehicle deliveries from 2021 onwards, “and such delivery schedule is feasible for Patria, providing that the R&D work for the common platform will be finalised by the end of 2020,” He comments. As for variants, also numbers are still under discussion, the overall programme calling for deliveries over a 10 years period. “The target is to have a single supply chain, that will involve industries of all three nations. This supply chain can be used also in other Patria 6×6 delivery programmes. The current three-nation programme is also open for other nations to join at a later stage,” Järvinen adds. A key issue in that programme is the security of supply that will be build for every nation. At the same time customers can use synergies, for example in spare stock, when applicable, and Patria is proposing a building model to ensure maximum economy of scale.
Weapon systems for the armoured vehicle system are still under discussion. Beside the basic Armoured Personnel Carrier version Patria is also capable of delivering a vehicle version featuring higher protection and bigger calibre weapons if needed.
“Leaving the vehicles domain and shifting to weapons, we consider our involvement with the US Army key for the NEMO system,” Järvinen says, adding that “our solution met the requirements when the US Army launched its public market survey in 2018, and meets all those of the most recent survey, which was launched one month ago.” The NEMO has been already been tested for five years at the Yuma proving ground, in Arizona, as part of a Foreign Military Sales to a Middle East country. “The US Army is looking at three capabilities, NEMO’s compatibility with U.S. mortar carrier weapon platforms and with the service fire control systems, as well as evaluating the use of current US 120 mm mortar ammunition for NEMO,” the President of Patria’s Land BU says adding that “we will thus integrate the turret on US Army platforms and will perform tests in the next two years, part of them in Finland and part in the United States.” As said earlier, the NEMO land version is about to demonstrate for the second time its fire-on-the-move capability.
Looking at technology, Patria is working on unmanned systems, as we could witness last year during our visit in Hämeenlinna. “The programme is ongoing, and we are ready to sell the product should a customer require it, however the feeling is that the use of unmanned vehicles is still under scrutiny by the various armies,” Jussi Järvinen states. Patria´s unmanned solution can be also installed to all already delivered AMV 8×8 vehicles without major changes in the vehicle configuration.
As for hybrid drive solutions the company closely follows the developments in that field, to be ready to introduce such option around 2030, when according to Mr. Järvinen the market should be ready for such solutions.
Phtos courtesy Patria and P. Valpolini