ASCOD 42 - universal vehicle meeting the requirements of the Czech Army

ASCOD 42 - universal vehicle meeting the requirements of the Czech Army
Author:|Caption: ASCOD 42
07 / 09 / 2020, 10:00

One of the bidders in the tender for new tracked Infantry Fighting Vehicles for the Army of the Czech Republic is the ASCOD 42, which is offered by General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDELS). This modern platform meets all the requirements of the Czech Army and also offers top parameters and capabilities.

Armored vehicles based on the ASCOD platform are used in the Spanish, Austrian or British armies and exist in many special-purpose variants. It is a flexible platform that allows the construction of a wide range of superstructures and the installation of various weapons and equipment. NATO armies use or plan to acquire ASCOD vehicles in versions such as Infantry Fighting Vehicles, Armored Personnel Carriers, reconnaissance, command, recovery, mortar carrier, medical or direct fire support vehicles. The total number of vehicles delivered and ordered is currently almost a thousand pieces.

Armament compatible with the Pandur wheeled IFV’s of the Czech Army

The GDELS company offers an ASCOD 42 vehicle as part of the Czech Army's tender, which is also the basis for the vehicles currently supplied to the British Army as part of the Ajax program. For the selection procedure of the Czech Army, the ASCOD 42 vehicle is equipped with the Israeli Elbit MT-30 MK2 manned turret, while this turret also exists in an unmanned variant, which is more than 90 percent identical. The configuration of the vehicle with the manned turret allows the transport of eight troopers exactly according to the requirements of the Czech Army. The main armament of the vehicle is the ATK Mk44 Bushmaster II caliber 30 mm cannon charged from the interior of the turret, which is also mounted with a 7.62 mm machine gun. In addition, in the MT-30 MK2 turret a retractable launcher for two anti-tank guided missiles Spike is hidden, which are also in use, for example, with the Czech wheeled Infantry Fighting Vehicles Pandur II 8x8 CZ. The equipment of the vehicle’s turret includes two independent aiming and observation optoelectronic systems for gunner and commander.

However, the design of the turret also allows easy installation of cannons of larger calibers, which is an important tactical and technical aspect. The trend in modern armored vehicles is to increase firepower and the associated use of main armament of larger calibers. It is therefore likely that the Czech Army will require rearmament for its Infantry Fighting Vehicles during its life cycle. The Bushmaster cannons already exist in several versions today, the Bushmaster III version is available with a caliber of 35 or 50 mm and the Bushmaster IV has a caliber of 40 mm, so if the ASCOD 42 is chosen, the change would not be technologically difficult in the future.

A very important aspect in terms of logistics and unification with partners in NATO and with its own armament is the fact that the GDELS Infantry Fighting Vehicle ASCOD 42 is offered to the Czech Army with the ATK Mk44 Bushmaster II weapon. It uses a type of ammunition as well as an ammunition delivery system and ammunition belts fully compatible with many other amored vehicles in the armament of NATO countries. Above all, however, the point is that all these items are fully compatible with the Pandur II 8x8 CZ wheeled vehicles of the Czech Army. In contrast, 30 mm Mauser cannons, which are used in several types of NATO’s  armored vehicles or their prototypes, such as the Puma, Ulan, Pizarro, Boxer, Lynx, use a different ammunition delivery system, and therefore different ammunition belts that are not compatible with most caliber 30 mm weapons used in NATO armored vehicles (and therefore with Pandur II CZ 8x8 vehicles of the Czech Army).

It is quite common for manufacturers to supply the armies with 30 mm caliber ammunition already in belts, ie different ammunition belts and ammunition delivery systems for vehicles are a significant complication in terms of logistics, storage and, above all, use for the army. If the Army chose the ASCOD 42, all logistics related to ammunition and armaments would be the same for the wheeled (KBVP Pandur II CZ) and tracked (ASCOD 42) platforms, including guided anti-tank missiles.

Action against air targets

From the point of view of efficiency and versatility of the deployment of modern Infantry Fighting Vehicles, a very important parameter is the extent of the elevation of the weapon. The large elevation range of the armament plays a crucial role in operations in urban densely populated areas (shooting at roofs or higher floors of buildings), but also in rugged terrain, which is typical of Central Europe. The main armament of Infantry Fighting Vehicles can also be used as a means of protection against low-flying targets, ie helicopters or unmanned aerial vehicles.

For the ASCOD 42 with the MT-30 MK2 turret, the minimum depression of the ATK Mk44 Bushmaster II cannon (including a coupled machine gun) reaches -10 degrees and the maximum elevation of +60 degrees, which are exceptional values ​​among modern Infantry Fighting Vehicles with manned turrets. Just for comparison, the Pandur II CZ vehicle, which, however, has an unmanned RCWS Samson II weapon station, has a range of elevation of the main and coupled weapons -20 to +70 degrees, the KF41 Lynx vehicle with Lance 2.0 turret mounted with a Mauser MK 30-2 / ABM cannon has elevation ranges from -10 to +45 degrees, and the CV-90/30 with a manned turret and ATK Mk44 Bushmaster II cannon is the same.

Thanks to the large elevation range and the high cadence of the armament in the turret and modern electronic observation or aiming systems, ASCOD 42 can effectively act against air targets. This is amplified by the ability to use the air-burst ammunition. From the point of view of the needs of the Czech Army, these are important facts, because after the decommissioning of the S-10M2D anti-aircraft systems, the Army will not have any mobile means of anti-aircraft defense of mechanized units in the coming years.

Growth potential

ASCOD 42 in the design of an Infantry Fighting Vehicle has a base weight of 38 t, but with the possibility of increasing it to 42 t. At this weight then falls up to 19 t for equipment, weapons, electronic systems, ammunition, additional armor, etc. ASCOD 42 therefore has large weight reserve for growth potential and modernization or special equipment. At the same time, however, it got very good dynamics and driving characteristics in difficult terrain thanks to the MTU 8V MT199 TE21 power unit with an output of 600 kW combined with the RENK HSWL 256B gearbox. ASCOD 42 can also be equipped with more powerful units with an output of up to 800 kW or a hybrid drive system, which again supports the growth potential of the platform for future upgrades or development of new purpose versions.

The crew of the vehicle consists of three people (commander, gunner and driver), and there is space for an eight-member infantry team, which has special explosion-proof seats and plenty of space for personal equipment and armament. The specialty of the ASCOD 42 vehicles is the floor separated from the bottom of the body itself (the so-called double deck), which effectively protects the crew and the troopers from the effects of explosions under the vehicle. The troopers do not have to have their feet on special seat rails when riding, as with other vehicles. In addition, the construction of the floor dampens the explosion to such an extent that there is no risk of injury from objects lying on the floor, which are thrown upwards by the explosion.

The ballistic resistance of ASCOD 42 reaches level 5 according to the STANAG 4569 standard and level 4a/b against mines. Despite its high durability and high load capacity, the ASCOD 42 is characterized by dimensions that enable trouble-free transport by road or rail. The width of the ASCOD 42 without removable side modules of additional armor is 3 m, which is a very interesting value compared to 3,150 m in the case of the BVP-2 (BMP-2) used in the Czech Army (with much less durability and load capacity), as well as compared to modern competitors.

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