European Wheeled Military APCs on the Rise & Spotlight Shifts to Infantry Fighting Vehicles
The data below is taken from Avascent Analytics Inventory Forecast, which provides platform inventory data from 2012 to 2028 for 61 countries globally.
We examine changes in the military APCs and Infantry Fighting Vehicle inventories for 24 countries in Europe.
Europe’s military APC inventories are undergoing a significant change with a greater number of wheeled vehicles being introduced in a shift away from tracked platforms. This change is most stark in the armoured personnel carrier role, where legacy platforms such as the M113 and FV432 have given way to a plethora of light and medium wheeled armoured vehicles.
Data from Avascent Analytics shows that in 2013 tracked vehicle accounted for 57% of European military APC inventories with approximately 8,138 tracked armoured personnel carriers in service compared to around 6,1480 wheeled platforms.
By 2017 the ratio of tracked vs wheeled military APCs is roughly 50:50 as legacy platforms are gradually being withdrawn from service, and 2018 sees the number of wheeled platforms surpass tracked military APCs for the first time. By 2027 wheeled APCs will make up approximately 62%, with the number in service increasing to 8,203.
With lessons learned from conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the types of military APCs on offer have changed dramatically with the addition of a lighter category of platforms performing a role that has been traditionally fulfilled by either soft skinned or lightly armoured vehicles.
When ranking platforms in terms of forecast unit deliveries from 2018 to 2027, three of the top five platforms fall within this category: Griffon, VBMR-Light and the yet to be selected UK Multi-Role Vehicle (Protected) Category 2 troop carrier vehicle.
Under Project Scorpion, France are introducing the 6 x 6 Griffon and 4 x 4 VBMR-Light vehicles, through the Nexter-led consortium comprising Nexter, Renault Trucks and Thales, as a replacement for its VAB fleet, which offered a much lower level of protection compared to the new platforms.
At the same time Belgium have ordered the Griffon vehicle a total of 1,107 Griffons forecast to be delivered to the two countries by the end of 2027. At the same time 489 VBMR-L platforms are to be delivered by 2025, with the possibility of production extending beyond this.
In the UK there is a requirement for up to 300 MRV-P Category 2 troop carrier vehicles, although it should be noted that the initial requirement is for 150 units. These vehicles will ultimately replace the UK’s Foxhound protected patrol vehicle, equipping its light mechanised force, with Foxhound due to be out of service by 2030, having entered service in 2012.
The MRV-P Category 2 program sees the Thales Bushmaster competing with KMW’s Dingo 2. Both have been deployed in Afghanistan with ISAF forces, although Bushmaster also has the advantage of having been procured by the UK Special Forces. 24 Bushmaster vehicles were procured by the UK in 2008 and have been used not only in Afghanistan but also more recently during operations against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
The remaining Foxhound vehicles are due to be replaced by the smaller MRV-P Category 1 platform with Oshkosh’s Joint Light Tactical Vehicle selected. However, with a funding shortfall in the UK’s Defence Equipment Plan, this program could be either significantly delayed or cancelled. With smaller numbers being procured, the Category 2 vehicle has a greater probability of entering service.
In the Infantry Fighting Vehicle role the proportion of wheeled platforms is also increasing, due to the offering of new turret solutions for platforms originally developed as APCs. 8×8 platforms procured in an IFV role include Boxer, AMV and Nexter’s VBCI.
Boxer, fitted with a Rafael Samson 30 mm remote weapon station, has been procured by Lithuania and Slovenia. Patria’s AMV is in service with Poland as the Rosomak, with the IFV variant fitted with Oto Melara’s Hitfist-30P turret, featuring the same Bushmaster Mk 44 30 mm cannon as the Boxer.
Slovakia is the latest European country to procure a wheeled infantry fighting vehicle, with the army due to procure 81 AMV XP platforms, featuring a 30 mm armed Turra remote weapon station.
However unlike in the APC role, where orders have been predominately for wheeled platforms, there is still demand for tracked IFVs with forecast deliveries of tracked platforms from 2018 through 2027 accounting for two thirds of total IFV deliveries with 952 tracked units forecast compared to 470 wheeled vehicles.
As a result, tracked vehicles are still expected to account for 81% of IFV inventory in 2027.
Currently only two tracked infantry fighting vehicles are entering service with the European Armies that we examined, with Puma being supplied to Germany by KMW and Rheinmetall and Estonia receiving surplus CV9035s from the Netherlands.
However, over the next ten years this is due to change as Eastern European countries look to modernize their legacy former Soviet Union IFV fleets amidst an increasing threat from Russia.
The Czech Republic, Finland, Poland and Greece have either stated, or are expected to state, a requirement for new Infantry Fighting Vehicles with a likelihood that these will be tracked platforms.
Poland has the largest modernization effort with 400 IFVs set to be delivered over the next 10 years, whilst the Czech Republic is set to receive 210 platforms during the forecast window and Finland 135. Finally, an opportunity projected by us for Greece is forecast to see 150 vehicles being delivered from 2021 to 2025.
Given the number of opportunities in the tracked IFV market, it was unsurprising to see tracked IFVs prominent at Eurosatory 2018, with Rheinmetall unveiling its Lynx family. At the same time BAE Systems is showcased the CV90 Mk IV whilst General Dynamics European Land Systems unveiled their new ASCOD IFV alongside a direct fire variant.
These efforts were not purely aimed at the European market of course, with BAE Systems, Rheinmetall and General Dynamics also looking to secure a significant prize with Australia’s Land 400 Phase 3 program. With a requirement for 450 vehicles, the Australian requirement is larger than any individual European IFV requirement.