Insufficient transport capacity by rail, land and sea, aging road, tunnel and bridge infrastructure with limited load capacity and headroom, geography and the fragmentation of the expanded operational area through water and terrain obstacles have made the topic of "military mobility" the focus of national and alliance defense in Germany moved to Europe. Only the ability of our mechanized land forces to be deployed and maneuvered quickly and without delay across the entire territory of the alliance creates the conditions and credibility at the same time for being able to achieve a successful, deterrent-based defense of our continent. Speed will be the determining factor: our ability to quickly identify a potential threat; to quickly decide and implement a political and military response at all levels (NATO-EU-each Member State). That means ensuring rapid, appropriate projection of power not only from light NATO forces, but also the rapid deployment of mechanized forces to a part of Alliance territory threatened by a potential aggressor.
For European land forces, this means a turning point, since they have to adapt the quality and quantity of the current mix of capabilities and vehicles in their task forces (wheel, chain, bridge) to the new requirements. The advantage of wheeled vehicles over tracked vehicles, being able to move quickly over long distances "on their own axis", makes the difference here. The conception and the planned rapid growth of so-called "medium forces" in the German army, at the center of which should be the Boxer and the successor system(s) for the varied but now outdated Fuchs armored personnel carrier, underlines the plausibility and explosiveness of this rethinking. It therefore seems stringent to prioritize the successor to the approximately 800 armored personnel carriers (TPz) and to budget for them in the Bundeswehr's special fund.
General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDELS) as one of the leading manufacturers of military wheeled and tracked vehicles and bridge systems has been dealing with the issue of military mobility in Europe since 2016. In 2021, among other things, the first comprehensive study "The CEPA Military Mobility Project - Moving Mountains for Europe`s Defense" was published in cooperation with the transatlantic think tank CEPA headed by retired Lieutenant General Ben Hodges and other well-known companies such as Deutsche Bahn.
Like no other land systems house in Europe, GDELS geared its development efforts to this central requirement of European defense at an early stage. Since then, all vehicle and bridge systems have been newly or further developed based on the following criteria:
- No vehicle system heavy MLC 50,
- Optimized mobility and ability to be integrated into the "Army System" through a more compact design, improved power-to-weight ratio and optimized loading and transportability on land, air and water,
- Standardized interfaces for improved interoperability with other systems,
- Multi-role capability of each vehicle platform,
- modularity in vehicle construction and system integration,
- Open system architecture
- Optional amphibious capability on 6×6 and 8×8 vehicles as well
- Separation of mobility and functionality in vehicle-supported bridge systems.
According to the GDELS experts, the end of the main battle tank, which is fire-powerful, all-terrain and highly protected, but unfortunately also very heavy and can therefore hardly or only with great logistical effort be moved to the operational area, is in sight. GDELS is convinced that highly mobile vehicle systems, equipped with the latest protection technology, interoperable and easier to transport due to their compact design and lower weight, point the way to the future. These systems also include the TPz “Pandur 6X6 Evo” and the highly protected wheeled vehicle “Eagle 6×6”. Since 2018, GDELS has been equipping the Austrian Armed Forces with the latest generation Pandur. The vehicle impresses with its outstanding mobility, a crew strength of 3+8, its high protection level of mine 4a/3b and ballistic 3+, its multi-role capability including the option for amphibious swimming and loading capability in the C-130, which is unique in the 6×6 vehicle segment Hercules, which will also be used in the future in the German armed forces.
With the procurement decision for the "Eagle 6×6" as a medium-sized armored ambulance, the Bundeswehr took another step towards a modern, multi-role 6×6 wheeled vehicle platform in 2020. The Eagle 6×6 also impresses with its excellent mobility, protection, payload and high level of logistical equality with the Eagle V 4×4, which has been introduced into the troops in large numbers.
Both vehicle systems therefore appear ideally suited to replacing the TPz Fuchs and being able to successfully serve in the middle forces of the German army. The Eagle 6×6 is in serial production for Switzerland and, after completion of the verification, will shortly also be available for Germany. The same applies to the Pandur 6×6 Evo, which is currently being delivered to Austria and in the future will also be delivered from Europe to the USA. GDELS sees itself in a position like no other company in Europe to offer two of the most powerful 6×6 vehicles of the latest generation "off-the-shelf" as a successor solution for the TPz and to deliver them to the troops within less than 18 months after signing the contract to be able to In the event of a series order, the production of both vehicles will be transferred in full to Germany. Concrete options have already been developed here, which will be presented in detail to interested German companies in September. GDELS has many years of experience in technology transfer and the industrialization of its vehicles to and in Germany and can rely on a strong network of industrial partners.
In view of the Russian aggression in Europe, neither compromises in the equipment and qualifications of the middle forces nor a delay in delivery to the troops can be accepted. In contrast to the dimensions of air and sea, in the complex, multifaceted dimension of land, i.e. the army that conducts combined arms combat, the characteristics and performance of each individual weapon and vehicle system must be evaluated in the overall operational context of the troops. In order to be able to set up survivable, modern medium-sized forces quickly on the battlefield, the TPz Fuchs successor platform must be able to be clearly measured against the Boxer in terms of its functional capability with variety of variants, mobility and protection. Restrictions and deficits in this area would jeopardize the success of the middle forces, which are essential for military mobility and thus the defense of Europe. Neither a gold solution nor a rusty solution is to be accepted, but rather high-performance, requirement-compliant vehicles "off-the-shelf". The weakest link will continue to determine the resilience of the entire chain. GDELS is ready to make its contribution to the German Army, the middle forces and the soldiers of the Bundeswehr.