When the Czech Republic last week selected the Austrian Steyr Daimler-Puch subsidiary of General Dynamics' [GD] European Land Combat Systems for an $865 million award to supply its PANDUR II Wheeled Armored Vehicles, Israel's RAFAEL netted $120 million to equip the vehicles with a complete Land Combat Fighting Suit. "This is a first that should open some doors," Amit Zimmer, RAFAEL's spokesman, told Defense Daily Wednesday during a telephone interview. "In the Czech Republic, RAFAEL is a big name now, and RWCS is something that other countries might be looking at to protect their soldiers."
The fighting suit comprises the RCWS (Remote Control Weapon System) family, including the RCWS-30 with SPIKE launcher and RCWS- 12.7, the SPIKE LR Multi-Purpose-Guided-Missiles, supplied by Eurospike, and add-on armor for the PANDUR II.
"It was an extremely long and rough competition," though felt most poignantly by the companies vying for the vehicle award, Zimmer said. "It involved very difficult and stringent testing conditions, day and night, with all sorts of obstacles...and tremendous expectations."
Finland's Patria, offering its 8x8 Armored Modular Vehicle (AMV) was the other main contender to the end for the 199+ vehicle competition, Zimmer said. BAE Systems and Germany's Rheinmetall had also made it to the competition's second stage.
The RCWS-30 is designed to increase the capability and survivability of a modern armored fighting vehicle. It includes a 30mm ATK MK-44 automatic Cannon, a launcher pod for two RAFAEL's SPIKE LR Multi-Purpose-Guided-Missiles and a coaxial 7.62mm General-Purpose Machine Gun. The system is equipped with a 3rd generation fire control system with observation day and night system compatible with the SPIKE requirements, stabilization system and an automatic tracker system for fire on the move capability. In addition the RCWS-30 can be enslaved to any external director.
The RCWS-30 was successfully tested and proved its qualities during the tests carried out by the Czech Republic Army on both the Steyr PANDUR II and Patria AMV, Zimmer said. The testing program included: testing the integration of the RCWS-30 on the vehicles, crossing open water area, test drives on paved and off-road surfaces, loading and unloading from a C-130 Hercules aircraft. Steyr selected the RAFAEL RCWS family after an extensive internal selection procedure among other weapon station manufacturers, Zimmer said.
Rafael has already sold more than 1,000 land and naval weapon stations, which in addition to the IDF are being used in the United States, England, Australia, Canada and additional countries. RAFAEL said it would cooperate with VOP026 and other local companies for local integration and manufacturing parts of the systems in the Czech Republic in line with RAFAEL's business culture for partnerships with local companies on its joint projects.
The deal may lead to other options in the way of communications, simulation and training, and possibly others, Zimmer said. "For these, we will probably team with local Czech companies." Zimmer said the company would need about three years to complete the project. The contract is slated to run from 2007-12.