Chief executive of Supacat, Nick Ames, discusses the company’s growing product line of high-mobility manned and unmanned land vehicles and Britain’s defence industrial strategy in an interview with Defence & Aerospace Report at DSEI 2019.
Supacat was delighted today to be represented at the ceremony handing over the first Boxer Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle to the Commonwealth at Gallipoli Barracks.
Supacat has been involved with Rheinmetall on the LAND 400 program since 2015. To date the contribution has largely been on engineering, trials, prototyping and testing, but as the program has moved into the production element, Supacat has commenced design and build activities.
The first Boxer CRV is fitted with external racks designed by Supacat specifically to cater for the Australian Army’s requirements. The racks were designed by the Supacat engineering team in Port Melbourne and have been delivered from Supacat’s assembly facility in Western Sydney.
In delivering these first parts, Supacat drew on the expertise developed through its delivery of its HMT programs in Australia and New Zealand in partnership with Australian SME’s under the Supacat Team Asia Pacific banner. These first deliveries exercised the skills of a number of Australian SMEs including Able Industries, Hoffmann Engineering and C.E. Bartlett. Supacat’s involvement in the program clearly illustrates the benefits of the enduring capability developed as a result of Defence Industry policy.
Michael Halloran, Managing Director, Supacat, said “It’s an exciting day for all of the members of the Rheinmetall LAND400 team. This is just the start of a long production run, and as MILVEHCOE opens in 2020 and the full production capability evolves on Australian soil, we look forward to growing our part in the program.” Mr Halloran added, “We are also very excited to be entering the RMA stage of LAND400 Phase 3 and supporting the Rheinmetall team through that process.”
Supacat unveils `optionally manned hybrid` Demonstrator at DSEi
At DSEi 2019 the world leading Special Forces vehicle developer, Supacat, is unveiling its Technology Demonstrator for hybrid and optionally manned operations, developed to keep pace with battlefield logistical requirements on extreme terrain and unpredictable routes.
The Technology Demonstrator has been developed by UK headquartered Supacat in collaboration with the University of Exeter as part of an Innovate UK-supported Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP).
“Electric Hybrid propulsion and autonomous technologies are two important innovations that will enhance the capabilities of users of our in service high mobility platforms. We have focussed our efforts on designing open system architectures, allowing extensive use of commercial off the shelf (COTS) components, which we see as key to a successful and sustainable military solution in a rapidly evolving technology sector”, explains Steve Austen, Engineering Director of Supacat parent, SC Group.
“It is in Supacat’s DNA to tailor its platforms and solutions to each customer’s requirements. Our approach uses a common electric drivetrain, each of which can be customised through different powering options depending on mission, range, payload and operating environment. For example, a customer may have a mission profile with a mixture of on road and off road operations, with a need for silent operation for a percentage of time – the proportion of these components will determine whether series or parallel hybrid options are employed or if full electric propulsion is needed. As battery or fuel cell technology advances and diesel engine development responds to legislation, these options will inevitably change and we must provide vehicle architectures that can accommodate such evolution”, Austen comments.
“We are exploring, developing and incorporating autonomous technologies in a way that will permit the level of collaboration and control from human to vehicle or from vehicle to vehicle to be altered depending on the complexity of the work being undertaken. Allowing vehicles to be `optionally manned` will remove users from the `dull, dirty or dangerous` tasks wherever possible and create a real operational advantage for the end user”, says Austen.
The ‘optionally manned’ demonstrator utilises:
- a terrain detection and response system for enhanced mobility and optimised endurance,
- an object categorisation and response system for obstacle clearance or avoidance during technical off road driving, which can be tailored to the capabilities of the vehicle, driver or a remote operator, and
- a path planning and motion behaviour system using simultaneous localisation and mapping (SLAM) for the navigation of lead and follow on vehicles.
“Few autonomous vehicle projects focus on highly technical off road terrain. The challenge here is to manage and reduce the volume of data needed about the unpredictable non-linear environment around the vehicle to assure effective, safe and predictable performance without having to import and export masses of data from it”, notes Austen.
The Technology Demonstrator uses the Supacat workhorse, the All Terrain Mobility Platform (ATMP), as its base vehicle as ATMP is a mature, battle proven and relatively simple product, enabling the development programme to focus on the new technologies and capabilities and subsequently allowing rapid development. It retains the renowned mobility and class leading payload of the original vehicle (up to 1600g).
Supacat is welcoming potential users and customers to demonstrations at its Devon facility over the next six months and is actively seeking new mission challenges that enable them to benchmark the performance of the vehicle and level of autonomy achieved during continued development in conducting realistic tasks. Use of Machine Learning, supported by Neural Networks will continue to allow the system to develop and be adapted to different off road vehicles and applications.
Supacat is exhibiting at DSEI 2019 on Stand N9-350, 10-13 March 2019
Supacat, Rheinmetall Defence and SCISYS have partnered to showcase a new capability for light forces, the ‘High Mobility Integrated Fires Capability’, at DSEi. The partnership demonstrates Supacat’s 6×6 HMT platform mounted with Rheinmetall’s MWS81 mortar system in its first integration on a light vehicle. The target acquisition and integrated fire support platform is networked with SCISYS GVA compliant platform and mission software.
Supacat’s highly mobile HMT platforms with their superior off road performance allow users to perform high tempo operations delivering indirect fire for light role forces while the MWS81 mortar capability allows for rapid ‘into action time’. The Vingmate sight provides target acquisition and location during day and night operations, with targets being shared over the battlespace data network enabling Support Weapon effects to be directed precisely onto targets.
The SCISYS developed GVA compliant platform and mission software shares data and video around the platform to each crew member’s display and into the battlespace networks, enhancing shared situational awareness and speed of decision making. The displays are supplied by Leonardo.
“This enhanced capability is a first for light forces and offers a solution to a number of potential requirements among the green army and Special Forces”, said Phil Applegarth, Head of Supacat.
High Mobility Integrated Fires Capability is being demonstrated on the Supacat stand N9-350 on Supacat’s HMT Extenda Mk2 Special Forces vehicle, which is also making its show debut at DSEi.
Supacat, the UK headquartered Special Forces vehicle developer, is growing its Engineering Services, in parallel to its core OEM vehicle business, to support global primes on defence programmes. At DSEi 2019 Supacat is highlighting its collaboration with Rheinmetall on four key programmes – the UK’s Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV) Boxer, Challenger 2 Life Extension Programme (CR2 LEP) and the Scout SV turret and on Australia’s Land 400 Phase 2.
“With UK MoD announcements expected on CR2 LEP and MIV, we are fully committed to supporting Rheinmetall wherever we can add value. We currently have engineers on placement with Rheinmetall Landsystemes at Kassel and Unterluess working on ongoing programmes”, said Phil Applegarth, Head of Supacat.
Supacat is renowned for its innovation in developing platforms such as the HMT `Jackal`, and brings this experience in delivering fully-engineered, integrated and battle-ready vehicle systems to both the UK and Australian MoD from its operations in each country. It is distinctive in the market in offering primes a full OEM engineering capability but with the responsiveness and flexibility of an SME (Small to Medium Enterprise).
“The relationship gives Rheinmetall the agility to rapidly draw on additional and specialist resources from engineering design to rapid prototyping and manufacture through to project and supply chain management”, said Thomas Zierke, Vice President Programmes at Rheinmetall Landsysteme.
Supacat is exhibiting at DSEI 2019 on Stand N9-350, 10-13 March 2019
Pictured: Mock turret for Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank (CR2), manufactured by Supacat to allow validation of the internal layout and optimisation for human interface factors including evacuation.
Supacat, the UK headquartered Special Forces vehicle developer, is showcasing its Light Role Vehicle at DSEi 2019. LRV offers unrivalled performance in terrain access, range and operator comfort. Its low weight and packaging offers a genuine `Fly / Drive` tactical capability utilising current in-service aviation assets for rapid intervention operations, while maintaining excellent payload capacity.
Building on Supacat’s experience in building world class high mobility vehicles, the Light Role Vehicle has been designed to deliver exceptional off road performance lowering user fatigue, reducing cognitive burden and enabling the operator to arrive at their objective fit to fight.
Supacat’s ongoing design work has upgraded LRV with a new engine and chassis to provide an optimised mix of bespoke and COTS components. This delivers an extended platform life with ease of supportability and standardisation across the LRV variants in order to minimise the through life cost and training burden. The design approach also considers ease of manufacture and maintenance.
The Supacat LRV platform is highly modular and offers a range of configuration options to suit a variety of environmental conditions, threat levels and crew requirements. All variants use a common chassis and driveline with customers able to specify modular elements of the vehicle such as open or closed cabs, seating layout, load platform and weapon systems.
LRV also has the unique feature of being convertible between 6×6 and 4×4, offering users the flexibility to reconfigure the vehicle to meet different operational requirements within hours by the addition or removal of a 3rd axle module.
“The feedback from our current specialist customer base has been extremely positive and users describe the vehicles as `in a class of its own`,” said Ben Gaffney, Head of New Programmes, Supacat. “Users love the HMT. The LRV offers the same level of quality and off road capability, in a smaller and more compact vehicle.”
LRV is ITAR free and can be supported via Supacat’s existing globally available spares network. LRV has been developed with a common user interface to its Supacat HMT `Jackal` to maximise inter-operability and minimise training.
Supacat is exhibiting at DSEI 2019 on Stand N9-350, 10-13 March 2019
Pictured: Open and closed cab LRV WMIK variants with options for 4 or 5 seats
Supacat, the UK headquartered Special Forces vehicle developer, is showing the most advanced version of its world leading special forces vehicle, the HMT Extenda Mk2, for the first time at DSEi 2019. This latest variant offers a step change in capability and payload capacity with an enhanced suspension system enabling gross vehicle weight to increase to 12,000kg from 10,500kg, and increase crew seating to six from four.
The Extenda is a variant of Supacat’s successful HMT (High Mobility Transporter) platform, which is operated by Special Forces around the world. The Norwegian Armed Forces are the first customer for the upgraded HMT Extenda Mk2.
Supacat has undertaken a rigorous and extensive programme of trials to Verify and Validate the performance of the system. As well as reliability and durability trialling at the Supacat test facility, the vehicle has successfully completed a 12,500km tour of Australia in order to confirm reliability and performance over long distances.
“The innovations to the HMT platform on the latest Extenda deliver increased capability and superior payload and performance. Our user feedback indicates that the vehicle has exceeded expectations, allowing them to do things they’d previously thought not possible”, said Phil Applegarth, Head of Supacat.
The chassis is now STANAG compliant for recovery purposes and a 6.7 litre Cummins diesel engine comes as standard. The blast and ballistic protection option can now be integrated at the factory build stage.
In line with Supacat’s modular design philosophy the latest Extenda provides for a range of configuration options from the factory in addition to the flexibility to re-role the base platform throughout the lifetime of the vehicle with a variety of mission modules and protection levels to meet changing demands. HMT Extenda has the unique capability of being operated as a 4×4 or 6×6 wheel drive vehicle thanks to a removable 3rd axle.
Supacat is exhibiting at DSEI 2019 on Stand N9-350, 10-13 March 2019
Injured soldiers take back control at the wheel of a Jackal
Some 60 injured soldiers and their partners, coping with both physical injuries and mental health issues, had the chance to take the controls of the world’s most acclaimed special forces vehicles at an event on 24 January organised by Motorsport Endeavour and Help for Heroes and hosted by Supacat at its off road test track in Devon’s Blackdown Hills.
The British military vehicle maker provided a range of its high mobility vehicles, including the 4×4 `Jackal` and 6×6 ‘Coyote’ which are part of the British Army’s core fleet. The vehicles were fitted with adapted controls for the day and the Supacat drivers were there to guide them around the track.
Motorsport Endeavour is unique in supporting the psychological recovery of service personnel and veterans through nationwide motorsports events. To date, Motorsport Endeavour has put together over 250 events with in excess of 5,000 servicemen and women experiencing high-octane, adrenaline-rushing motorsport events. Many have made life-long friendships and gained much-needed confidence and life skills, built trust and comradeship, and thus gained a more fulfilling life with positive self-esteem and resilience.
Twenty eight veterans and their loved ones from Help for Heroes’ Plymouth Recovery Centre also took part in the day. Veteran Neil Edwards, who served 21 years in the Royal Corps Signals and was medically discharged in 2017, said it was an amazing day, ‘It’s just a great opportunity to get back in the vehicles you used to work on during operations like in Oman and Afghanistan. It’s just a good all-round muddy adventure. To come to an event like this you do feel appreciated again. Makes you feel worthwhile again.’
Motorsport Endeavour was founded by Graham Raphael, who himself suffered paralysing injuries in 1977. He comments, “By definition service personnel have guts and they gain from many different aspects of these events, which help diffuse their problems. For someone who has lost his sight or a limb, giving them the controls of a vehicle makes them realise life isn’t over. The public may no longer see the coffins passing through Royal Wootton Bassett but the mental and physical challenges continue for them and their families. The carers are `The Forgotten Few` as they are often overlooked, hence we involve them in all our events”.
Nigel Platt, a former Royal Marine and Supacat driver who organised the event, said, “Our aim is to put a big smile on their faces. It gets many of them out of hospitals doing something they never thought they’d be able to do again, and taking back control, which boosts their confidence”.
Supacat has hosted numerous Drive Days for Motorsport Endeavour as part of its commitment to supporting the armed forces community. Last year it was awarded the Armed Forces Covenant Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS) Silver Award for its support to the armed forces community.
Major General (Retd) Robert Talbot Rice CBE has been appointed a non-Executive Director of SC Group, the UK headquartered engineering services company. The Group includes a number of international businesses including Supacat, SC Innovation, Proteum and Blackhill Engineering, whose products and services are used in sectors including defence, marine, energy and infrastructure.
Prior to retirement from a full career in the British Army, Major General Talbot Rice was the UK MoD Director Land Equipment, responsible for acquisition and support for much of the MoD’s land equipment. Before that he was UK MoD Head of Armoured Vehicles, in which role he was promoted to Major General in 2014.
Commissioned into the Welsh Guards in 1983, his operational service includes four tours in Northern Ireland; command of the British Battlegroup in Bosnia; and tours on the staff in Kosovo (in Headquarters KFOR) and Iraq (in General Petraeus’s headquarters as the chief liaison officer to the Iraqi Ministry of Defence).
He is a Chartered Director, and a Fellow of both the Institute of Directors and of the Institution of Engineering and Technology; and is a graduate of the Said Business School/Cabinet Office Major Projects Leadership Academy.
On his appointment to SC Group, Robert said: “I am very pleased indeed to be joining the SC Group Board, and much look forward to working with the other Board members to steer this successful and well regarded company through the years ahead”.
Nick Ames, Chief Executive of SC Group, said, “We are delighted to welcome Robert to the board. His wisdom and experience from leading from the top of the British Army, combined with his astute management skills in delivering complex procurement programmes, will be invaluable assets to the whole Group”.
Supacat, part of the SC Group, is an innovative engineering and design company providing global, defence focused products and services with offices in the UK and Australia.
Supacat is committed to partnering with Australian industry and is delivering development, production and support programs with Australian partners under the Supacat Team Australia banner.
As part of Supacat’s corporate social responsibility program Australian Managing Director, Michael Halloran has been active in seeking ways in which the company can work with Australian initiatives designed to support service and ex-service personal.
Supacat is thrilled to officially announce their support of Trojans Trek and their endeavours to rebuild the well-being and mental health of veterans who have been adversely affected by their service.
An introduction was made between Trojans Trek Chairman, Moose Dunlop OAM and Mr Halloran and it was soon discovered that a collaboration between the two organisations would be would be a great fit. Following the initial discussions, Mr Dunlop travelled to Sydney to attend Supacat’s Annual Dinner on 24th October and share the story of Trojan’s Trek with government representatives in defence, partners and customers of Supacat.
Michael Halloran, Supacat Managing Director said “When we set out to find a veteran’s charity to focus our support on, I was amazed to discover that there were 3,200 veteran based charities in Australia. When we came across Trojan’s Trek, we felt immediately that we were on common ground. Their approach to outdoor peer support simply made sense. Trojan’s Trek has largely flown under the radar, because they have put all of their focus on the outcomes of what they do. They have had great results with minimum support, and we hope that with Supacat’s support they can provide that support to anyone that needs it.”
“Of course, the challenges of mental health and wellbeing go beyond the impacts of PTSD that Trojan’s Trek primarily supports. We see these challenges in our own business and ultimately we believe that this collaboration will be beneficial for our own staff as well.”