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Bridging the gap: combat bridging

Discussion in 'Pakistan Army' started by fatman17, Apr 9, 2008.

  1. fatman17

    fatman17 PDF THINK TANK: CONSULTANT

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    Bridging the gap: combat bridging

    Christopher F Foss Jane's Land Consultant - London

    Key Points
    A number of armies are fielding increasingly sophisticated bridging systems

    Although designed for high-intensity operations these systems offer a number of advantages in training and logistics


    Christopher F Foss reports on the development of more capable combat bridging systems required by the deployment of increasingly heavy armoured vehicles

    Over the last few years a number of armies have introduced new main battle tanks (MBTs), which are much heavier than earlier generations of the vehicles.

    This has led not only to the upgrading of existing armoured vehicle-launched bridge (AVLB) equipment but also the development and fielding of new and more capable systems.

    In most cases, in addition to being able to take heavier vehicles, these new bridging systems have also been able to span wider gaps and are quicker to deploy. In some instances they use more advanced materials that are lighter and stronger than those used in earlier bridges.

    Some countries have also placed increased emphasis on the fielding of lighter fleets of armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs), such as the US Army's Stryker infantry carrier vehicle.

    This has led to the development and fielding of associated truck-mounted bridging systems that are also air transportable, usually in the widely deployed C-130 Hercules aircraft.

    Experience in recent operations has shown that existing bridges over wet and dry gaps have often been damaged through enemy action, or their design is such that it cannot safely take the weight of some of the vehicles currently deployed.

    In the past AVLBs were often based on obsolete MBT chassis. However, there is now a trend to have a common heavy fleet with its associated armoured recovery vehicle (ARV), armoured engineer vehicle (AEV) and AVLB all based on the same chassis.

    This offers the user a number of advantages especially in the areas of training and logistics. Although designed for high-intensity military operations, AEV and AVLB also have a role in peace support, peace enforcement and humanitarian relief roles.

    To support its fleet of recently acquired ex-German Army Krauss-Maffei Wegmann ( KMW) Leopard 2 MBTs, Finland is deploying an AVLB based on a modified Leopard 2 MBT chassis.

    Prime contractor for this AVLB is Patria Weapon Systems, with Ruag Land Systems of Switzerland and Military Mobile Bridges (Germany) as the main subcontractors.

    This Finnish AVLB is fitted with a Military Mobile Bridges two-part bridge that is launched over the front of the chassis, which when opened out can span a maximum gap of 27 m. Patria has also developed a Heavy Mine Breaching Vehicle (HMBV) based on a Leopard 2 chassis.

    Unlike most armies, the French Army does not deploy a full tracked AVLB to support its fleet of Nexter Systems Leclerc MBTs. For the export market, Nexter has proposed a Leclerc AVLB that would carry and launch the Military Mobile Bridges 26 m long Leguan bridge, but this remains a concept.

    To meet French Army requirements Constructions Industrielles de la Méditerrannée (CNIM) is developing the Modular Assault Bridge (Pont d'Assault Modulaire - PTA) under a EUR138 million (USD216 million) contract awarded in 2003. This is based on a new 10 x 10 cross-country truck chassis that will enable it to operate with the Leclerc MBT.

    The baseline PTA 2 carries two 14.3 m-long bridges - one on top of the other - that are launched over the front of the vehicle and can take vehicles up to Military Load Class 70 (MLC). As an alternative one 26 m bridge can be carried.

    The French Army had ordered a total of 18 PTA 2 systems but this has been cut back to 10. The first is now due to be delivered in the first half of 2009, with all systems received by 2014. Each PTA 2 system will consist of one 10 x 10 armoured launcher with two bridges and a semi-trailer truck carrying additional bridges.

    Another proposed version is the PTA 3, which could carry three 10.5 m bridges or one 10.5 m, one 18.7 m and one 27 m bridge. In each case the bridge is launched with the crew under complete armour and NBC (nuclear, biological and chemical) protection.

    CNIM has also studied a more compact version called Pont d'Assault Modulaire Aérotransportable, which would be air transportable in an A400M aircraft. This consists of an 8 x 8 chassis with two 10.5 m long bridges, one above the other, each of which can be laid in five minutes. The launching system and bridge are derived from the PTA 2.

    CNIM has also developed and tested a Pont d'Accompagnement sur Remorque towed support bridge. This consists of a 6 x 6 tractor truck that tows a semi-trailer on which is carried a MLC 70 scissors bridge that is launched over the rear. It weighs 9 tonnes and is 19.5 m long when opened out.

    German standard
    The standard AVLB of the German Army is the Biber (Beaver) based on a Leopard 1 MBT chassis that was introduced into service in 1975. A total of 104 were supplied to the German Army with export sales to many other countries. This carries a two-part bridge laid over the front of the vehicle, which when opened out is 22 m long and can span gaps of up to 20 m.

    To meet the requirements of the German and Netherlands armies, Military Mobile Bridges (which is today part of KMW) built two prototypes of the Panzerschnellbrücke 2 (PSB) based on a new Leopard 2 MBT chassis.

    This carries three bridge modules - one on top of the other - that can be launched over the front of the chassis. Each aluminium module is 9.7 m long and is MLC 70 (or MLC 100 with caution) and the bridges can be laid individually or coupled together.

    The original requirement was for 35 PSB 2 and 66 bridge sets for the German Army and 14 units and 28 bridge sets for the Netherlands.

    While the German Army still uses the Biber AVLB, an increasing number of customers have adopted the Military Mobile Bridges Leguan two-part bridge. This is carried and launched from an 8 x 8 cross-country truck chassis or a modified MBT chassis and when positioned is 26 m long and used to span a gap of 25 m.

    One of the more recent developments by General Dynamics European Land Systems - Germany (previously EWK) is its Rapidly Emplaced Bridge System (REBS). This was developed for the US Army Stryker-based Brigade Combat Teams (BCT) and a total of 30 units have now been ordered and are already in service.

    REBS consists of a US government-furnished Oshkosh M1977 8 x 8 cross-country Palletised Load System (PLS) truck chassis fitted with a so-called Bridge Adapter Pallet (BAP) for a two-part modular bridge that is horizontally launched over the rear of the vehicle. When in position this bridge is 13.8 m long and can be used to span gaps of up to 13 m and take vehicles up to MLC 50. The BAP incorporates a truck independent diesel driven engine to supply the hydraulic system with power.

    The company continues to market its M3 amphibious bridging and ferry system, which was originally developed to meet the requirements of Germany and the UK.

    In addition to having an increased load carrying capability up to MLC 85 (tracked) and MLC 132 (wheeled), the M3 has a number of other enhancements including improved land and water performance and quicker construction times. Following trials with pre-production systems, Germany took delivery of a total of 30 M3 units while the UK took delivery of 38 as replacements for the older M2 units.

    The company has also built 22 brand-new M3 units for Taiwan, which have a number of additional enhancements to meet the country's specific requirements including armoured cab, air conditioning and NBC system.

    The latest M3 version is currently under production for Singapore with the first deliveries being made in 2006. The M3 successfully saw combat in Iraq with the British Army in the early phase of Operation 'Iraqi Freedom' in 2003.

    Poland cancelled its order for 13 M3 units for budgetary reasons and the vehicles originally determined for its army have now been delivered to other customers.

    The Indian Army, meanwhile, has taken delivery of a batch of Bridge Layer Tanks (BLT) based on the T-72 MBT chassis, which was made under licence in India until replaced by the more recent T-90. BLT 72 carries a two-part scissors bridge that is launched over the front of the vehicle and when opened out is 26 m long.

    India has developed a complete family of assault bridging systems, which includes the tank-mounted Multi-Hop Assault Bridge (MHAB). This is 20 m long when in position and is fitted with a trestle at the far end to allow wide gaps to be covered using a number of MHAB units.

    India has also developed an Extended Span Assault Bridge (ESAB), which has three segments and a length of 28 m when fully opened out. The ESAB is normally launched from a MBT chassis.

    Finally there is the Sarvata truck-mounted bridging system. This consists of a Tatra 8 x 8 cross-country truck, used in large numbers by the Indian Army, fitted with a scissors bridge that is launched over the rear of the chassis. The scissors bridge is 15 m long when opened out and is fitted with trestles to enable a number of units to be used to bridge wet and dry gaps. In concept this is similar to the widely deployed Russian TMM system carried and transported by a 6 x 6 truck chassis.

    Israeli experience
    While known mainly as a weapons contractor, Israel Military Industries (IMI) has extensive experience in the design, development and production of military bridge systems. The Israel Defence Force currently deploys its Tandem AVLB that is transported and launched from a M48/M60 tank chassis. This carries two 11.7 m MLC assault bridges that are carried one on top of the other with the top one being launched first.

    According to IMI, no modifications are required to the standard M48/M60 AVLB launcher to enable this tandem bridge system to be transported and launched. In addition, IMI can also supply a replacement bridge for the standard scissors bridge deployed by the M48/M60 AVLB.

    South Korea has fielded an AVLB based on the chassis of the domestically developed Hyundai Rotem K1 MBT. This is fitted with a launching system and scissors bridge supplied by the then Vickers Defence Systems (now BAE Systems Land Systems). The first units were supplied from the UK with follow-on production in South Korea.

    For some years Poland manufactured the Russian T-72 MBT under licence and further development of this resulted in the PT-91 MBT. A complete family of support vehicles has been developed on this chassis including AEV, ARV and AVLB. The latter is called the PMCz-90 and is fitted with a scissors bridge that is launched over the front of the vehicle and when opened out is 20 m long and can take vehicles weighing up to 50 tonnes.

    In 2003 Malaysia placed a contract with the Polish company Bumar covering the supply of 48 of the latest PT-91M MBTs, six WTZ-4 ARVs, three MID-M obstacle breaching vehicles and five PMC AVLBs. The latter is fitted with the Leguan 26 m bridge rather than a Polish scissors bridge,

    Russia has always placed considerable emphasis on its bridging capability, especially MBT-based AVLBs.

    The latest Russian AVLB is the Gusenitsa-1 (or MTU-90), which is based on the chassis of the T-90 MBT and can launch a three-part bridge that can be used to span a gap of 24 m.

    Development of this is understood to be complete but production of the bridge has yet to commence. The bridge used with this system is compatible with the Gusenitsa-2 (TMM-6), which is transported and launched from an 8 x 8 cross-country truck chassis. A typical Gusenitsa-2 system consists of six units each carrying a scissors bridge launched over the rear of the chassis. Each bridge has a trestle and a complete system can in theory be used to span a gap of up to 102 m.

    The Russian T-72 MBT is used by many countries all over the world and a complete family of support vehicles has been designed and built on this chassis including the MTU-72 AVLB, which is the replacement for the older MTU-20 based on the T-55 MBT chassis.

    The MTU-72 has a three-part bridge, a centre part and two ramp ends, which fold through 180 degrees and rest on top of the centre part when travelling. When opening out this is 20 m long and can be used to span gaps of up to 18 m.

    Russia also deploys the PMM-2 amphibious ferry system, which is the replacement for the older GSP heavy amphibious ferry still used by a number of countries. As a ferry a single PMM-2 unit can carry up to 42.5 tonnes. A single unit can also be used to form a bridge of between 17 m and 20 m.

    To support its expanding fleet of Bionix infantry fighting vehicles, Singapore Technologies Kinetics developed the Bionix AVLB. This is a modified Bionix chassis fitted with a launching system for a Military Mobile Bridges two-part bridge launched over the front of the chassis. When opened out and extended this is 22 m and can be used to span a gap of up to 20 m.

    The Turkish company FNSS Savunma Sistemleri is known mainly for its family of full tracked armoured combat vehicles (ACVs) as well as an expanding range of wheeled armoured vehicles.

    Following a competition, the Turkish Land Forces Command awarded the company a contract covering the design, development and production of a Mobile Floating Assault Bridge (MFAB). A total of 52 units are to be delivered over a 69-month period. The MFAB can be used as a floating bridge or ferry.

    Challenger 2 support
    For many years the British Army deployed the Chieftain AVLB and AEV to support its fleet of BAE Systems Challenger 2 MBTs.

    These obsolete Chieftain-based vehicles are now being replaced by the BAE Systems Land Systems Engineer Tank System (ETS) based on Challenger 2 MBT automotive components. The GBP250 million (USD495 million) contract awarded in 2001 contract covered the supply of four pre-production ETSs and 66 production ETSs, which are being built at Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

    The last batch is now on the production line but earlier production vehicles will be returned so that all ETSs are of the same build standard.

    Of this production order, half are Titan AVLBs and half are Trojan breacher vehicles. Titan can transport and launch elements of the in-service BR90 system that is commercially known as the Modular Bridging System.

    Titan can typically carry one No 10 scissors bridge that is launched over the front of the vehicle and when opened out is 26 m in length. Another alternative is carrying two No 12 bridges one on top of other with each of these being 13.5 m long.

    Titan can also be fitted with a Pearson Engineering dozer blade or a Track Width Mine Plough. The Trojan breacher can carry the Full Width Mine Plough and the Automatic Route Marking Systems. Titan and Trojan are both fitted for but not equipped with a remote control capability.

    BAE Systems Land Systems (Bridging) has completed deliveries of the BR90 to the British Army and supplied 176 bridges, 139 8 x 8 vehicles, 14 trestle sets and four pontoon sets. It continues to provide through-life support as well as looking after key elements of the British Army war reserve.

    The BR90 system is expected to go through a mid-life upgrade and this is likely to cover two main developments. First, as a result of increasing MBT combat weight the bridge system will be upgraded from MLC 70 to a higher rating. Secondly the bridging vehicle will be refurbished or replaced with the MAN 8 x 8 cross-country chassis that are now being introduced into the British Army.

    So far the only export customer for the Modular Bridging System is Malaysia, which has taken delivery of three sets of the latest 52 m system known as the Axially Tensioned Long Span Bridge (ATLSB). All elements are based on a MAN 8 x 8 cross-country truck chassis with each system consisting of a launcher vehicle and five trucks that allow gaps of up to 50 m to be crossed.

    Within the British Army's Future Rapid Effect System (FRES) is a requirement for a series of tracked manoeuvre support vehicles, which will include an AVLB with perhaps a requirement for up to 30 AVLB of MLC 50.

    BAE Systems Land Systems, teamed with QinetiQ, has completed a 23-month Technology Demonstrator Programme (TDP) for the AVLB, which is known as the FRES Gap Crossing requirement.

    The US Army has taken delivery of 43 Wolverine Heavy Assault Bridges (HABs) from General Dynamics Land Systems/Military Mobile Bridges. This is essentially a modified M1A1 Abrams MBT chassis fitted with a Military Mobile Bridges two-part bridge launched horizontally over the front of the vehicle. When laid in position the bridge is 26 m long and is typically used to bridge a gap of up to 24 m and up to MLC 70.

    The US Army still operates the older M48/M60 AVLBs, as does the US Marine Corps (USMC), and the Joint Assault Bridge (JAB) programme is now under way to replace these vehicles. This is essentially a modified M1A1 Abrams MBT chassis fitted with launching system from the Titan AVLB.

    The JAB launcher is designed to launch the existing scissors bridge, which is 19.202 m long and can be used to span a gap of up to 18.2 m. In the longer term this old bridge could be replaced by a new and more capable bridge with a higher MLC than currently available.

    The first demonstrator JAB was completed in 2006 and followed by two pre-production units, with another contract for six units being awarded last year. The total USMC requirement is for 22 production units with the US Army requirement being considerably larger over the course of the next five years.
     
  2. JK!

    JK! PROFESSIONAL

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    From information I've gathered Pakistan is using converted M47s as AVLBs. The ARV role is played by M88s and Type 563.

    Haven't found too much on AEVs thought on the Pakistan defence export site there is a truck mounted with assault trackway, a truck mounted bridge and a forklift truck.

    A good partnership would be with Turkey as they are converting old M48s into AEVs, ARRVs and AVLBs.
     
  3. blain2

    blain2 ADVISORS

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    Actually ours are also M-48s.
     
  4. JK!

    JK! PROFESSIONAL

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    I think its both as the DEPO website has two pages on AVLBs.
     
  5. fatman17

    fatman17 PDF THINK TANK: CONSULTANT

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    NORINCO Type 653 ARV

    To support the Type 69 main battle tank (MBT), NORINCO developed the Type 653 Armoured Recovery Vehicle (ARV). This is based on a much modified Type 69 MBT chassis fitted with a new all welded armoured superstructure that protects the crew from small arms fire and shell splinters.

    Typical roles would be changing MBT power packs as well as the complete recovery of lighter vehicles.

    To carry out these roles, a hydraulically operated blade is mounted at the front of the vehicle that is used to stabilise the vehicle when the winch is in use. The crane is pivoted at the front right side of the hull and can be traversed through 360º and can lift a maximum load of 10 tonnes.

    The main hydraulic winch leads out through the front of the vehicle and is provided with 130m of cable. An auxiliary winch is also provided as are tools and other specialised equipment.

    Standard equipment includes a nuclear, biological and chemical defence system and night driving aids. The vehicle can also lay its own exhaust screen by injecting diesel fuel into the exhaust outlet on the left side of the hull towards the rear.

    The latest version is the Type 653A, which has a combat weight of 41 tonnes and an upgraded crane that can lift a maximum load of 20 tonnes. It has a more powerful winch with a maximum pull of 70 tonnes with two cables and rigid towing equipment. The front-mounted blade can be used either to stabilise the vehicle or clear battlefield obstacles and prepare fire positions.

    The Type 653 ARV has been manufactured in Pakistan by the Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT) facility and is marketed as part of the NORINCO PLZ-45 155mm/45-cal self-propelled artillery package for which the launch export customer was Kuwait.

    Specifications
    Crew: 5
    Armament: 1 x 12.7mm machine gun
    Combat weight: 38,000kg
    Power-to-weight ratio: 15.26hp/t
    Power pack: Type 12150L-7BW V12 diesel developing 580hp at 2,000rpm
    Length: 7.18m
    Width: 3.304m
    Height: 3m
    Max speed: 50km/h
    Range: 370km

    Status
    Production as required. In service with China, Bangladesh, Kuwait, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
     
  6. kidwaibhai

    kidwaibhai SENIOR MEMBER

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    i dont think that we need these new AVLBs cauz our tanks are lighter than most western tanks.
     
  7. JK!

    JK! PROFESSIONAL

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    Well if not AVLBs then an AEV with a mine lane clearing system at least.
     
  8. Saleem

    Saleem FULL MEMBER

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    what about pontoon bridging; It seems the chinese a version of the soviet PMP system called type 90 but don't have much info; does anyone have such info?