By Paolo Valpolini
After slightly more than one year since the project started, SASCorp of Spain unveiled the prototype of the Valkyrie, a heavy UGV based on a wheeled 6×6 high mobility platform. The system is meant to become the Spanish Army heavy unmanned ground vehicle, and can be used as an amphibious platform or, increasing the payload, as a land-only UGV.
What strikes is the movement of the central right suspension of the prototype, which allows the UGV to overcome a 0.7 meter vertical obstacle, an achievement for a vehicle which height to the upper platform is only 1.7 meters, length being 5 meters and width 2.5 meters.
“Propulsion is based on a Jaguar turbodiesel engine providing 350 hp, which is used to charge the battery pack currently made of Lithium-Io batteries, although we are looking to new solutions in order to have lighter batteries that would allow us increasing the payload,” Noemi Fernández Gil, the company Chief Operating Officer tells EDR On-Line in the company booth at FEINDEF. Batteries then power the six motors that ensure the movement of the 13R20 wheels, allowing the Valkyrie to reach a maximum speed of 40 km/h. No further details were provided about electric motors.
The UGV can overcome a 60% slope and a 30% side slope and ford up to 1.7 meters, the equivalent of its height. An amphibious kit allows it to operate in calm waters, two Castoldi waterjets ensuring propulsion up to a maximum speed afloat of 6 knots, vector thrust allowing maximum manoeuvrability. The Valkyrie can float at a 5.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight (GVW), 1.8 tonnes being the payload. The UGV is capable to fire a 12.7 mm machine gun while sailing, heavier turrets with 20 mm or 30 mm cannons being also useable afloat, but from a static position and after having deployed stabilisers at the back. The structure can withstand a much higher GVW, hence when not used as amphibious, it can reach a GVW of 7.5 tonnes, which means a payload of 4.3 tonnes, a remotely controlled turret with a maximum weight of 2.5 tonnes being an option. Add-on armour can bring protection up to Level 4 according to STANAG 4569.
The hybrid propulsion system allows movement for 8-10 hours, while the range in electric-only propulsion is limited to 3 km. These should be the requirements of the Ejercito de Tierra, the system seen at FEINDEF being only the internal prototype, SASCorp aiming at delivering the real prototype to the Spanish Army in one and a half year time.
Currently the Valkyrie has a limited autonomy capability, based on a series of sensors ranging from LIDARs, to Near IR and Long Wave IR cameras. When moving cross-country supervised autonomous drive is the standard mode, a follow-me mode being also available, as well as waypoint navigation mode. A direct link up to 10 km is the standard issue, however a satellite link can be installed as option.
The Valkyrie is fully modular and can be provided in different configurations, such as engineer vehicle to cope with mine and IED clearing, fitted with Rheinmetall’s Plofadder 160 AT explosive line charge, but it can als o be easily reconfigured for casualty evacuation, as well as for reconnaissance.
Photos by P. Valpolini