Clearing the way [CANSEC2016D2]

26 May 2016

Flensburger Fahrzeugbau Gesellschaft (FFG) is building up the export order book for its Wisent 2 Support Vehicle. This was originally developed as a private venture to meet emerging requirements for a Leopard 2 main battle tank (MBT)-based platform that could be rapidly reroled for the specialised armoured recovery vehicle or armoured engineer vehicle (AEV) battlefield missions.

Canada, which ordered 18 AEV variants, was the launch customer, with final deliveries due in December 2016. By May 2016, the Wisent 2 had been also been ordered by Qatar (6), Norway (6) and the United Arab Emirates (undisclosed quantity), with production expected to continue to at least 2019.

Canada and Norway use surplus refurbished Leopard 2 MBT hulls, replacing older vehicles based on the Leopard 1, while Qatari and UAE systems are based on brand-new Leopard 2 hulls supplied by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann.

The Leopard 2 hull is fitted with a brand-new all-steel armoured superstructure, with a spall liner for the crew of three, who are seated one behind the other on the left.

During operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Balkans, anti-tank mines were a major problem and the Wisent 2 is fitted with an enhanced mine protection package that is stated to provide protection to STANAG 4569 Levels IVa and IVb. For a higher level of battlefield survivability, ballistic protection to Level V can be provided.

The standard Leopard 2 MTU 1,500hp (1,100kW) power pack is retained but a 17kW auxiliary power unit is fitted, which enables all the key subsystems to be run with the main engine switched off.

Mounted on the right side of the hull is the hydraulically operated crane arm or excavator arm, which is traversed to the rear when not required and can be operated from within the vehicle or by remote control.

The excavator arm can be fitted with special-to-role equipment for the engineer role, such as a bucket with a digging depth of 4.4m and reach of 9m, auger or pincer for removing trees or road blocks.

Mounted at the front of the hull is the hydraulically operated support blade, which can be lowered to the ground when the crane, excavator or main winch is being used.

The dozer blade can be removed and replaced by more specialised combat engineer equipment, such as a track-width mine plough – heavy, or a full-width mine plough – heavy, which are normally supplied by Pearson Engineering of the UK.

When being used in the mine clearing role, the vehicle can also be fitted with the safe lane marking system (LMS). This consists of two racks of pennants mounted one either side at the rear of the platform. These are coupled to the LMS control unit and the vehicle-mounted compressor.

The Wisent 2 Support Vehicle is fitted with an electronic architecture to make it easier to install new subsystems without a major rework of the hull.

(477 words)