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This article first appeared in Aviation Week & Space Technology.
As it enters its 20th year in service, the CV90 tracked infantry fighting vehicle is just getting started. The platform, in service with six nations and produced here by BAE Systems Hagglunds, is about to be delivered in a range of new variants that include medical evacuation, mortar carrier and cargo transport, and it remains at the heart of BAE's ambitious program to develop a multiuse adaptive camouflage system.
The original CV90, designed and built for the Swedish defense ministry, was fitted with a 40-mm Bofors cannon and designated CV9040. An export model fitted with a 30-mm Bushmaster cannon, known as CV9030, was ordered by Norway in 1994. Under a £500 million ($800 million) contract signed in June, BAE will upgrade the entire Norwegian CV90 fleet and supply an additional 41 vehicles, bringing the total to 144.
"The Norwegian army has had very good experience with the CV90," explains Conny Flemin, Hagglunds' deputy project manager for the Norway upgrade program. "There has been little negative feedback -- the only thing they actually mention is related to space in the combat compartment, which we have solved."
The upgrade program is complicated. Most, but not all, of the extant 103 Norwegian vehicles -- one of the 104 originally ordered in 1994 has been scrapped -- will have the original Mk. I chassis replaced by the larger, more-capable Mk. III. The Mk. III is 200 mm (7.8 in.) longer, 170 mm higher in the troop compartment, and has a 6.5-ton increase in payload capacity. A new machine gun -- the type is yet to be decided -- will be fielded on all vehicles.
Once the upgrade is completed, Norway will have 74 CV9030s in the basic configuration, the extended Mk. III chassis topped with the Mk. I turrets originally supplied under the 1994 contract, and with eight seats in the troop compartment rather than the original seven. A further 15 vehicles will be supplied as command-and-control platforms, their troop compartment equipped with four operator workstations, and another 21 as armored reconnaissance vehicles, both with Mk. I turrets atop Mk. III chassis. As this totals 110 vehicles, BAE will manufacture an additional seven Mk. I turrets, identical to the 1990s turret except for the integration of a Mk. 44 Bushmaster, as the original gun is no longer in production.
The remaining 34 vehicles will be based on the turretless Armadillo configuration unveiled at the Eurosatory show in 2010. Two will be supplied as trainers, with the remainder divided between a combat engineering vehicle (which will use the original Mk. I chassis, as the increased space in the rear compartment is not required), a mortar carrier and a reconfigurable multi-use carrier, which can be operated in casualty evacuation, as an eight-seat VIP transport or a cargo hauler.
"There will be a total of nine different configurations, so this is truly a challenge in logistics," says Flemin. "As of today, we are actually ahead of plan."
The program will proceed in staggered phases, with finalized design of the last variant to be delivered, the armored reconnaissance platform, about a year behind the basic vehicle schedule. Delivery of the final vehicle is planned for the second quarter of 2017.
The contract also includes a 20-year maintenance agreement, initiated on delivery of the first upgraded vehicle, and comprising five-year options.
Meanwhile, Hagglunds continues to publicize a concept based on a CV90120 -- a light-tank configuration featuring a Ruag 120-mm smoothbore cannon -- covered with small hexagonal panels that change the thermal signature of the vehicle. Called Adaptiv, it is the product of a research partnership with the Swedish ministry into the viability of an adaptive camouflage system. Announced at the DSEi exhibition in London last year, Adaptiv has so far demonstrated the ability to blend the vehicle's infrared (IR) signature with background images; to change that signature to mimic other objects in the landscape, such as civilian vehicles or natural objects; and to display messages or markings to communicate with friendly forces.
But there are challenges. "We probably cannot sell this only with the IR feature," says Peder Sjolund, Adaptiv program manager. "We need multispectral features on the system. The goal of the whole system is to include visual active camouflage, radar cross-section reduction with radar-absorbent features in the tiles and inherent blast protection."
Sjolund argues that many necessary technologies are available commercially, and estimates that, with funding in place, a viable prototype could be produced in two to three years, with a finished system deliverable in under six years. A decision on further Swedish government funding is expected before the end of the year. Sjolund says the company has had discussions with "several" interested potential customers.
Credit: BAE Systems