Thursday, January 21, 2010

Amphibious Vehicles for Greece

DefenceNet reports that the Greek Army will imminently acquire second hand AAV-7 amphibious fighting vehicles, M-113A2 APCs and M901A1/A2 Integrated Tow Vehicles from US stocks. The vehicles will partly cover immediate needs with a very low cost which essentially will be the cost of depot level maintenance. The reason current needs will only partly be covered is due to the fact that the AAV-7 does not have a good level of survivability which is also the reason it will be replaced in US service. The M-113s will be either used for spares or to replace vehicles already serving in the Greek Army but are immobilised due to a lack of parts. The M901s form a ¡n important reinforcement.

This is the type of acquisition Minister of Defence Venizelos referred to last week when he spoke about “smart and economical choices” in weapons acquisitions, which do not necessarily also mean they are the best choice. The vehicles have already been inspected by Greek Army officers and are being accepted “as is, where is”.

The AAV-7 has a height of 3.26 metres and an excellent transport capability. Besides the three man crew it can carry 25 people, in other words it can roughly carry a platoon. With the current Greek personnel levels 28 people are closer top forming a company. It is expected that in Greek service the vehicles will transport 10 to 12 troops at most.

The vehicle is equipped with a .50 cal machine gun and a Mk-19 40mm grenade launcher. In 1984 the producer (FMC) produced the A1H version with improvements in suspension, fuel management and flotation. The weight of the vehicle is 22.7 tonnes. The original plan to acquire an amphibious armoured fighting vehicle is listed as the fourth priority for the Army with a budget of 100 million Euros. This considerable sum will now be saved.

In either event the acquisition of thee AAV-7 more than covers the needs of the Marine Battalion as 100 vehicles will be acquired. The armour is of a middle level (around 45 mm of aluminium alloy) and the engine produces 18 hp per tonne. The range is 480 km and the maximum speed 64 km/h.

The acquisition of the M901s will save a further 78,500,000 Euros and involves 72 vehicles, launchers and related equipment. The exact number of launchers is still unknown but Army sources refer to between 50 and 80 systems. The M901 carries a twin automatic TOW2 launcher with a range of 3,750 metres.

With regards to the plan to acquire 30 Russian made BMP-3F amphibious vehicles as an offset to the agreement to acquire 420 BMP-3HL Army sources stated that other offset forms are being looked into which will emphasize the creation of an industrial base which will support and maintain the BMP-3s. It is possible the offset agreement will include other types of vehicles such as support vehicles. Either way, the BMP-3HEL can easily be converted into a fully amphibious vehicle with the addition of a conversion kit.

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