The surprise public unveiling in June of the Rheinmetall Lynx IFV has added a new and potent platform to the Phase 3 lineup; one which alone of the known tracked contenders can accomodate, as required, an eight-strong infantry section.
Julian Kerr | Sydney
It is also a vehicle which seeks to address an emerging and difficult issue: the need to reduce the costs of ownership of modern tracked fighting vehicles without compromising the high overall performance required on today’s battlefield.
The surprise was not total. Rheinmetall is understood to have included the Lynx in its response to the Phase 3 Request for Information (RfI) that closed in February.
The company developed Lynx as a private venture and is marketing two versions; the KF 31 and KF 41 with the KF standing for Kettenfahrzeug – ‘tracked vehicle’ in German.
"Displays in the fighting compartment provide the crew with a seamless 360 degree panoramic view."
The Lynx KF 41 has a crew of three and can carry eight dismounts when fitted with the Lance 30mm or 35mm manned turret; the Lynx KF 31 has a marginally shorter hull (7.22m compared to the K 41’s 7.73m) and non-turreted variants were included in the RfI for the recovery, repair, combat engineer and ambulance requirements.The hull is an all welded structure, with spall liners fitted internally. Additional passive or active systems, or a mix of both, can be added to provide a higher level of protection. Decoupled seats and a double floor enhance survivability against mines and improvised explosive devices.
Rheinmetall says the vehicle’s ballistic armour also shields Lynx from antitank weapons, medium-calibre ammunition (generally assumed to be up to 40mm), artillery shrapnel, and top-attack bomblets.
Lynx can be fitted with the Rheinmetall hard-kill Active Defence System or the soft-kill Rheinmetall ROSY Rapid Obscurant System – Land (ROSY) linked to the laser and acoustic sensors on the Lance turret.
As proposed to Australia, the turret is in the same configuration as that offered for the Boxer CRV, fitted with a 30mm Mauser Mk 30-2 air burst-capable automatic cannon and a coaxially-mounted RMG 7.62mm machine gun. This potentially provides high levels of commonality between the Land 400 Phase 2 and 3 fleets. The machine gun is externally powered and features three barrels.
When a barrel reaches critical temperature the barrel bundle is electrically rotated to an alternative barrel, a process which Rheinmetall states can be completed in less than three seconds while under armour.
The turret can alternatively be fitted with a suitably qualified 35mm cannon in place of the Mauser 30mm 30-2 without changing its fundamental design. Turret traverse is all-electric with manual backup, and elevation is from -10 degrees to 45 degrees.
If required, the same two-round pod for the Spike LR anti-tank guided missile that equips PSM’s Puma IFV can be integrated on the left side of the turret.
Both the commander and gunner have access to a day/night Stabilised Electro-Optical Sight System (SEOSS), a digital television-infrared optical system with an integrated laser range finder that is linked to a computerised fire control system.
Displays in the fighting compartment provide the crew with a seamless 360 degree panoramic view provided by Rheinmetall’s Situational Awareness System (SAS). This features automatic target detection and tracking that enhances the commander/gunner hunter-killer capability and minimises crew reaction time.
Colour images are projected on flat-panel displays at the commander, gunner and driver stations. An additional flat-panel display is fitted in the rear troop department for the dismounts.
An optional roof-mounted Remote Weapon Station (RWS), also slaved to the SEOSS and armed with a 7.62mm or .50 calibre machine gun, allows the commander and gunner to observe and engage targets independently of each other. This then provides a true killer/killer capability.
Laser warning sensors also form part of the sensor suite, together with an acoustic sniper locating system that alerts the crew to incoming small arms fire and slews the turret towards the threat.
The commander, driver and gunner each have hatches immediately above their stations although the crew normally enters the vehicle through the hydraulically-operated rear ramp. A roof hatch at the rear of the fighting compartment allows two troops to keep watch, and also serves as an emergency exit.
The diesel powerpack in the front of the hull features a Liebheer diesel coupled to an Allison X300 series automatic transmission, delivering around 800kW (1,050hp) for the 44 tonne KF 41 and 563kW (750hp) for the 38 tonne KF 31. This produces a top speed of 70 km/h for the KF 41 and 65 km/h for the KF 31, with a range for both of about 600km. The running gear has six dual rubber-tyred road wheels per sides and a conventional suspension system comprising swing arms with torsion bars and hydraulic shock absorbers. The KF 41 utilises lightweight steel tracks; the lighter KF 31 rides on segmented rubber tracks.
The 700 litre-plus fuel tanks are located in the sponsons with an additional large reserve tank in the engine bay. The exhaust and the engine cooling system are routed to the rear of the hull to reduce the vehicle’s thermal and acoustic signature.
Lynx features a high power-to-weight ratio and can traverse gradients of up to 60 degrees and lateral inclines of more than 30 degrees. It can cross ditches up to 2.5 metres wide, surmount 1 metre vertical obstacles and ford bodies of water up to 1.5 metres deep.
The overlap between Lynx and Puma is significant (the Lynx also shares a number of subsystems and components with the Boxer CRV, providing potential logistics benefits). It is important to note, however, that while Puma was developed for a specific German requirement, Lynx has been aimed at a much broader utilisation based on a detailed assessment of the modern battlefield and the emerging cost of ownership of modern fighting vehicles.