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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 is intended to replace the Small Unit Support Vehicles (SUSV), which have been in use since the early 1980s and are known as BV206.

Prototypes for a general-purpose vehicle and a cargo transporter have been commissioned for testing and evaluation by the Army, 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.

The CATV, according to Tim Goddette, Program Executive Officer (PEO) of the U.S. Army's Combat Support and Combat Service Support Division, 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 and powerful equipment for extreme weather conditions as the Arctic region becomes increasingly important for military operations. The US Army, in its Arctic Strategy released on March 16, 2021, emphasized the need to modernize and increase presence as Russia and China continue to assert their dominance in the region to pursue their economic and geopolitical goals.

Oshkosh Defense and its partner ST Engineering are delivering the prototypes under the name Oshkosh CATV, which is derived from the Bronco 3. The Bronco 3 is built by ST Engineering and is used in various countries. The Bronco family of vehicles has completed more than 1,860 miles of performance testing in arctic conditions and more than 200,000 miles of operating in harsh desert terrain. The Oshkosh CATV prototypes offer built-in modularity to allow for a variety of configurations. An all-purpose vehicle can be used, for example, as a troop transport, for the evacuation of injured people (CASEVAC) or as a command vehicle. It can be switched from one configuration to another in the field within 30 minutes by a two-person crew.

BAE Systems builds its prototypes for the CATV program based on Beowulf. The unarmored Beowulf is based on the armored vehicle type BvS10, which is already in production and in use in several variants in five nations. The Beowulf offers efficient lifecycle management and low costs for routine maintenance and servicing by using 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 replace BV206, in which Sweden is a partner alongside Germany, Great Britain and the Netherlands.

The prototypes are tracked vehicles with two cabins that are steered using hydraulic articulated steering. They are very capable of off-road use and are well suited for use in extremely cold climates and arctic conditions. The test vehicles are scheduled to undergo extreme cold testing and evaluation 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,” Goddette said. “Current plans call for final selection for the CATV to be made in the third quarter of 2022. An order will then be placed for the production of up to 200 CATVs.”

Wolfgang Gelpke