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The US Army has commissioned the delivery of prototypes for the US Army's Cold Weather All-Terrain Vehicle (CATV) program through the National Advanced Mobility Consortium (NAMC). From 2023 it will replace the Small Unit Support Vehicles (SUSV), which have been in use since the early 1980s and are known under the designation BV206.

The army has commissioned prototypes for an all-purpose vehicle and a load carrier for tests and evaluation, which are to be delivered in the second quarter of 2021. The prototypes are evaluated in terms of payload, mobility, crash behavior, buoyancy and transportability.

According to Tim Goddette, Program Executive Officer (PEO) of the Combat Support and Combat Service Support division of the US Army, the CATV will “enable the transport of up to nine people in extreme cold, emergency medical evacuations, command and control functions and the transport of support general goods ”.

The US Army needs modern, high-performance equipment for extreme weather conditions, as the Arctic region is becoming increasingly important for military operations. With its Arctic Strategy published on March 16, 2021, the US Army emphasized the need to modernize and increase its presence as Russia and China continue to assert their dominance in the region in pursuit of their economic and geopolitical goals.

Oshkosh Defense and their partner ST Engineering supply the prototypes under the name Oshkosh CATV, which is derived from the Bronco 3. The Bronco 3 is built by ST Engineering and is in use in various countries. The Bronco family of vehicles has completed more than 1,860 miles of performance tests in arctic conditions and over 200,000 miles in rugged desert terrain. The Oshkosh CATV prototypes offer built-in modularity to accommodate a variety of configurations. An all-purpose vehicle can be used, for example, as a troop transport, for evacuating the injured (CASEVAC) or as a command vehicle. A two-person crew can switch from one configuration to another in the field within 30 minutes.

BAE Systems builds its prototypes for the CATV program based on the Beowulf. The unarmored Beowulf is based on the armored vehicle type BvS10, which is already in production and in several variants in five nations. The Beowulf offers efficient life cycle management and low costs for routine maintenance and servicing through the use of common components in the BvS10. The vehicles are built by BAE Systems Hägglunds in Sweden.

The latter are comparable to the ongoing European program to succeed the BV206, in which Germany, Great Britain and the Netherlands are also involved as partners in addition to Sweden.

The prototypes are tracked vehicles with two cabins that are steered by hydraulic articulated steering. They are very off-road and well suited for use in extremely cold climates and under arctic conditions. The test vehicles will undergo extreme cold tests and evaluations at the Cold Regions Test Center in Alaska from August to the end of December 2021.

"This will help us shape the selection process for the production contract," said Goddette. “Current plans are that the final selection for the CATV will be made in the third quarter of 2022. Then an order for the production of up to 200 CATVs is to be placed. "

Wolfgang Gelpke