Update: Bulgaria receives special forces vehicles

by Aleksandar Mladenov & Krasimir Grozev & David Ing & Nicholas Fiorenza

The Bulgarian MoD received the first batch of 45 armoured vehicles for its JSOC on 21 December 2021. (Bulgarian MoD)

The Bulgarian Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on its website on 21 December 2021 that it had received the first batch of 45 armoured vehicles from Samel-90 for its Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) that day. The MoD said 98 vehicles would be built in 10 different versions, with deliveries to be completed by the end of 2022.

The MoD signed the urgent procurement contract for the vehicles with Samel-90 in December 2020. The Bulgarian manufacturer has a joint venture with the UAE-based International Armored Group (IAG), which has the design authority for the vehicles, with final assembly and customisation taking place at Samel-90's new factory in Samokov, southwest of Sofia.

JSOC commander Major General Yavor Mateev told Bulgarian military TV on 21 December 2021 that the first vehicle is intended for major tactical employments, with the up-armoured Toyota Land Cruiser 70 series to be employed when greater mobility is required. He added that both models had undergone major customisation work to meet a specific set of Bulgarian MoD requirements.

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UK to explore Data Merging for Alternative Navigation

by Richard Scott

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) plans to run an industry competition for the maturation and demonstration of Data Merging techniques supporting Alternative Navigation (Alt Nav) methods in the event of disruption to global navigation satellite systems (GNSSs).

In a 4 February tender notice, the MoD's Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) organisation said it planned to award two contracts within a total budgetary envelope of GBP1.5 million (USD2 million).

GNSS operates by computing signals broadcast from a constellation of synchronised satellites. Its use increasingly underpins precise and secure navigation for military users, but it is vulnerable to interference, spoofing, signal blockage or constellation failure that may result in GNSS denial. Furthermore, many environments in which the military operates – inside buildings, in urban canyons, under dense foliage, underwater, and underground – have limited or no GNSS signal availability.

To address this challenge, the MoD's Alt Nav programme seeks to provide GNSS-quality positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) to military users regardless of the operational environment. This involves the merging of data within the navigation system design to prolong the availability of the PNT solution from traditional and emerging sources.

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Croatia to receive Bradley IFVs from US

by Igor Tabak & Miko Vranic

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković announced on 26 January that an agreement had been reached on the acquisition of Bradley IFVs from the US (photo of vehicle participating in exercise 'Immediate Response 21' held in the 'Eugen Kvaternik' training area in Croatia from 17 May to 2 June 2021. (MORH/T Brandt)

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković announced at a press conference on 26 January that an agreement had been reached on the acquisition of Bradley infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) from the United States.

The acquisition cost is around USD196.4 million divided into two halves. The US will provide USD51.1 million in the European Recapitalization Incentive Program (ERIP) financial aid for the first half, with Croatia paying the remaining USD47 million before the end of January as a first instalment. The second half is to be covered in five annual instalments.

This US financial aid aims to help Croatia transition from Yugoslav M80 armoured fighting vehicles to Western equipment and to defray the costs of refurbishing the Bradleys. Zagreb had to complete the process before the end of January, when Washington's offer of financial aid was set to expire.

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IAV 2022: DE&S FCG announces upcoming competitions for unmanned capabilities

by Olivia Savage

FCG announced upcoming competitions at IAV 2022. (MOD Crown Copyright 2022 )

James Gavin, head of the Future Capability Group (FCG), part of Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S), outlined a number of upcoming competitions at the International Armoured Vehicle (IAV) 2022 conference in London.

Some of the key priorities include nano-unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), tethered-UAS, multidomain integrated UAS swarms, large rotary-wing UAS, unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs), high-altitude pseudo-satellites (HAPS), human-machine teaming (HMT, such as the use of robot dogs), and human-machine interface (HMI).

It was revealed that FCG has a budget of approximately GBP300 million (USD404.9 million) over three years across multiple programmes and projects.

HMT is considered a high priority for FCG customers, James Gavin said, however, despite its importance they stated that overall, the capability does not yet exist in industry outside of the US to meet requirements. In April 2022 the organisation intends to launch an HMT acquisition framework with an initial budget of GBP25 million. The programme will have significant headroom and may reach around GBP100 million in approximately two years.

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The Bulgarian Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on its website on 21 December 2021 that it had rec...

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