Ever since the genesis of mankind, new challenges are requiring us to adapt, improvise and eventually master changes in our environment. Whether it is nature, business, politics or war: The key to survival is – and has always been – based on the ability to innovate and cooperate. In the face of a changed defence environment, European states are now exploring new and deeper ways of fostering defence cooperation in both political and industrial terms. As many European countries are taking the step of profoundly modernising their assets it becomes evident that joining forces and being a key innovator in the realm of defence is an imperative to national as well as European security as it has never been before.
Ever since the foundation of the company in 1889, one of Rheinmetall’s great strengths has been its ability to combine tradition and modernity, exacting craftsmanship and innovative excellence. This approach runs throughout nearly 130 years of corporate history. And it is thanks to this approach that Rheinmetall has grown into a Europe-based, globally operating high-tech enterprise and trendsetter, dedicated to meeting the twin modern imperatives of security and mobility.
The list of innovative Rheinmetall breakthroughs is encompassing 120mm smoothbore technology for main battle tanks, active protection systems and high-energy laser effectors, to name but a few. At this year’s Eurosatory, the Lynx KF41 was unveiled as the latest member of a highly modular, future-proof family of tracked armoured vehicles. A new, truck-based Automated Load Handling system (ALHS) developed in conjunction with Australian manufacturer Supashock was also having its debut during the exhibition. Currently, a new generation of tank main armament is being developed.
Being also innovative in innovating, Rheinmetall recently conducted its first Intrapreneur Award competition, which proved to be a resounding success. Here the Executive Board gave talented staff from both parts of the Group – Defence and Automotive – an opportunity to demonstrate their innovative prowess and present forward-looking concepts for new products and services. The results were extremely exciting, with ideas ranging from 3-D printing to 360° visualization for combat vehicles and armour with built-in sensor technology.
Today, Rheinmetall is already a proven partner of the French armed forces and security services. For example, France’s commando and police special operations units know that they can count on the company’s highly effective special purpose munitions such as flashbang grenades and 40mm technology. Cooperation is also strong, e.g. with MBDA in weapon stations for guided missiles and system carrier trucks for air defence systems. More examples of close cooperation are likely to emerge in the near future: Germany and France have agreed to cooperate more closely in the defence technology domain and to develop new high-tech systems. Among these flagship projects is the Main Ground Combat System, or MGCS, the “main battle tank of the future”. The system will be developed in close cooperation between the defence sectors of both nations, with Germany taking the lead in the project. As one of Europe’s foremost makers of land systems, Rheinmetall is capable of producing not just individual components and platforms, but entire systems. Moreover, Rheinmetall knows how to network these with other actors and systems in order to create highly effective combat groups. As a globe-spanning enterprise, Rheinmetall has a proven track record of experience when it comes to including and cooperating with other contractors.
Immediate neighbours and partner nations around the world benefit from Rheinmetall’s innovative spirit, pioneering creativity and ability to collaborate in complex projects. One example is the Group’s family of HX trucks, which forms the logistic backbone of numerous armed forces around the globe.
In operations both at home and abroad, modern armed forces depend on assured, round-the-clock mobility and reliable logistics. Robustness, versatility and functionality are the most important performance criteria – no matter how bad the roads or how difficult the terrain. Increasingly important too are flexible protection solutions, crucial for keeping crews safe during deployed operations. The French Ministry of Armed Forces has initiated a major modernisation project in this domain.
The latest generation of HX vehicles from Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles (RMMV) meets all criteria for modern military logistic vehicles. It is the outcome of decades of experience in developing, building and servicing military vehicles. With some 10,000 vehicles now in service, the HX numbers among the world’s most widely used military trucks, with abundant operational experience.
The HX family comes in variants ranging from 4x4 to 10x10, configured for a multitude of different missions: cargo trucks and heavy-duty recovery vehicles, tankers and system platforms as well as heavy equipment transporters for main battle tanks and other military vehicles, and bridge-laying systems. The vehicle family concept largely results in identical modes of operation, maintenance and repair as well as spare parts, leading in turn to lower lifecycle and training costs. Adhering to a strict military-off-the-shelf (MOTS) approach, RMMV uses proven, reliably modified mass production components in the HX family, specially designed to meet military requirements. This results in made-to-measure military vehicles that deliver maximum cost-effectiveness.
Particularly in multinational operations, the worldwide presence of RMMV vehicles offers major advantages in terms of interoperability and logistics. Among others, the current list of user nations includes the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and Denmark. Norway and Sweden have both placed substantial orders with RMMV. With the User Nations Group, RMMV has initiated a unique platform bringing together and enabling both European and international HX users to exchange their experiences, learn about new features and provide feedback to improve the trucks even further.
Innovation and cooperation in the defence sector have become a major precondition for sustaining European security and sovereignty. The political project requires backing by key industrial innovators experienced in cross-border team work in order to succeed. Being a key defence innovator for over a century, Rheinmetall is building its successes on exactly these two pillars and is prepared to engage in a deepened Franco-German and European defence cooperation.