June 01, 2012
Credit: Credit: MBDA
Italy is developing a new modular approach to countering improvised explosive devices (IED) that will employ a number of specialized vehicles based on the Iveco VTMM multirole medium tactical vehicle chassis.
The concept is to operate a “train” of four vehicles, each of them providing a dedicated capability, to defeat or dispose of every kind of potential threat.
The new vehicles will replace the current fleet of four Buffalo and six Cougar vehicles that were acquired to meet an urgent operational requirement to provide troops in Afghanistan with route clearance and disposal of IEDs and unexploded ordnance.
The Italian army has decided it wants to use smaller, specialized vehicles, fitted with a variety of systems and sensors, and has appointed European missile giant MBDA and Iveco to develop the new system, called Calife 3. It awarded the team a $199 million contract that includes the acquisition of 16 systems by 2013, with an option for an additional 10. The industrial team is set to complete development and qualify the two main variants by the end of the year. The army will assign the vehicles to the combat engineers.
Calife 3 builds on the experience MBDA had already gained in countermine systems with its Souvim “pushed decoy,” (DTI May, p. 27), a demonstrator that followed a design phase started in 2002. A second-generation decoy came with the Sydera remotely guided vehicle, tested in demonstrator form.
The first vehicle is devoted to countering IEDs and is equipped with a pressure plate, wires and rollers, and infrared, tripwire and tilt-rod activators. Its mission is to perform the initial route clearance, to identify and possibly detonate any threats using mechanical arms that allow it to keep a relatively safe (3.5 meters, or 11.5 ft.) distance.
Compared to initial configurations, the latest evolution is heavier, at 750 kg (1,650 lb.), and can be lifted from the road by hydraulics if the vehicle needs to clear an obstacle, such as a tree. The pressure plate counters mechanically activated devices. A second unit uses vertical steel arms to capture trip wires. A third element addresses IEDs triggered by IR sensors, even if placed off road.