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Indo Defence 2016: To Breathe or Not to Breathe….That is the Aspiration….

Armoured vehicle competition for Indonesian Army

One of the competitions obvious to attendees at Indo Defence 2016 in Jakarta this week is that for a new armoured vehicle for the Indonesian Army. The two contenders – the FNSS/PT Pindad Modern Medium Weight Tank (MMWT) and the Rheinmetall MARDER MEDIUM TANK RI (Republic of Indonesia) appear evenly matched in many technical and operational aspects. The question remains, therefore – what will be the competitive edge that determines a winner?

Both vehicles address the basic requirements that Mönch understands feature in the original outline specification: overall weight between 32-35t, main armament of 105mm calibre and a three man turret. Both vehicles leverage state-of-the-art design features and manufacturing processes in their conception and both are at a sufficiently advanced stage that they could – in theory – be rapidly moved through an evaluation and selection process, with series production to follow in a relatively short period thereafter.

MMWT benefits from the considerable advantage that it is the product of a joint venture between Turkish FNSS and Indonesian PT Pindad: That is a consideration that will, presumably, carry significant weight in a selection process that will undoubtedly seek economic and industrial benefit from the expenditure of taxpayer funds in addition to significant enhancement of operational capability.

The Rheinmetall offering, on the other hand, benefits from the company’s recent and ongoing experience delivering upgraded LEOPARD 2 and MARDERs to Indonesia – a process that has given Rheinmetall a wealth of exploitable expertise in customising vehicle systems and adapting them to the demanding operational environment they have to confront.

One of these challenges – as anyone visiting Jakarta this week can attest – is humidity. Vehicles left unattended, even if closed down, for a few days can very soon start to develop fungal growth – as one experienced engineer with experience of local conditions confirmed to MT. That means that air conditioning for the vehicle reaches a higher level on the hierarchy of needs than being simply a ‘nice to have’ feature for crew comfort. While ensuring that the crew can function efficiently across a wide range of environmental conditions is important, ensuring vehicle functionality and maintainability becomes a ‘must have.’

In this regard, too, the two vehicles offer the potential user what they most desire. Rheinmetall’s modification of vehicles for the Indonesian Army has included the development of very comprehensive cooling and air conditioning systems that will be fully exploited in MARDER RI. The MMWT design has taken air conditioning into account from the beginning of the design phase and has adopted an intelligent software driven hydraulic fan that provides optimum torque extraction for the powerpack and fuel economy, as well as environmental cooling.

MARDER RI and MMWT take slightly different approaches to satisfying the customer need. And both suppliers are conscious those needs may continue to evolve and change. The turret configuration, for example, is not quite as fixed a specification requirements as might have at first been thought. “They’re not so keen on a three man turret right now,” one observer close to the programme told Mönch in Jakarta. The competition, as it unfolds, will reveal much about the way in which Indonesia continues to develop its procurement and acquisition policies.

Tim Mahon

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