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CUAS platforms, security systems and MBTs steal the spotlight as the curtain falls on Eurosatory 2024

21st June 2024 - 09:58 GMT | by Damian Kemp, Sam Hart in Paris


The big reveal. The Arquus MAV’Rx was one of the leading stars of Eurosatory 2024. (Photo: Arquus)

Eurosatory 2024 is done, the boxes are mostly put away, vehicles sent home to bed, stalls torn down, ripped carpet rolled up and weary business directors and their engineers have, for the last time for this edition, hung their MKU lanyards around their necks. But what, if anything, have we learned from this show in suburban Paris?

At Eurosatory 2024 more armoured vehicles were parked up than two years ago, but a look around might suggest a similar return to the old familiar, with designs for interim MBTs and vehicles on display looking to fill a deepening hole in capability to meet a perceived large ground forces threat.

In the world of green things that fly there was a major reset earlier this year with the cancellation of the US Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) and a return to the well to hand over additional greenbacks for more Black Hawks in the face of a change in threats.

All of this occurred as a trend of the past two years continued – a widening array of CUAS, more UGVs and AI being laid over the top of many products, including in the realms of security and policing. Additionally, security threats at civilian street level or borders have been identified as a market opportunity and bespoke equipment or battlefront equipment tweaked for frontline responders was also apparent.

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The CUAS trend since the drone war part of the Ukraine-Russia war began shows no sign of falling out of fashion with DroneShield talking about massively increasing production as it tries get as many units of its DroneSentry-X Mk2 out the door as fast as possible.

The perpetual improvers at Milrem once again showed their THeMIS with yet another capability jump by adding a Starlink terminal for satellite communications and substantially boosting the reach of the platform as a cargo and casualty evacuation platform.

Leonardo’s new AW249 attack helicopter on display at Eurosatory 2024. (Photo: Giovanni Rasio)

For Milrem the war in Ukraine, a neighbour to their homebase of Estonia, has proven to be a sandbox where they can learn from users and improve the platform to better protect and support soldiers in combat. The platform remains one of the most visibly battle-tested uncrewed platforms of its class and Milrem are taking major advantage of this experience.

As the largest Defence Exposition in Europe, it takes a lot for a company to truly lead the conversation at Eurosatory, but KNDS’ impressive stand and array of new offerings including the Leopard 2 A-RC 3.0 and Leclerc Evolution have done just that. Yet its involvement in, or indeed the future of, the Main Ground Combat Systems (MGCS) programme has seemed to fly completely under the radar and out of conversation here.

Instead, almost all the focus from both KNDS and Rheinmetall appears to be squarely on the rapidly heating up competition to develop ‘interim’ tanks, a broad term for a vehicle that’s not quite MGCS, but an improvement on the current Leopard 2A8 and Leclerc XLR models.

KNDS’ aforementioned new offerings seek to rival the Eurosatory 2022 offering revealed Rheinmetall KF-51 Panther, a platform joined by a further two Panther variants this year, rather than offering the clean break developmental platform MGCS is meant to do.

Indeed, the ‘EMBT-ADT 140’ shown by KNDS is pitched less as an actual MBT concept demonstrator and more as a handsome backdrop for the Ascalon 140mm cannon given its ‘Ascalon Demonstrator Turret’ name.

The latest BAE Systems Hagglunds CV90 Mk IV features a new turret with greater internal volume which can be armed with different medium-calibre cannons. (Photo: BAE Systems Hagglunds)

At the less lethal end of the heavy metal line, BAE Systems Hagglunds rolled out its latest iteration of the ever more popular CV90, this time featuring a new turret with greater internal volume which was first fitted to the Royal Netherlands Army (RNLA) CV9035NL Mid-Life Upgrade.

Features of the new turret include a NATO Generic Vehicle Architecture (NGVA) and a central control panel that can be accessed by commander or gunner, 7.62mm machine gun mounted externally on the right side of the turret to increase space, eliminating fumes inside the turret and allow for more ready rounds to be loaded.

On the same side behind the co-axial 7.62mm MG is a twin retractable launcher for the Spike-LR anti-tank guided weapon (ATGW).

Once again this platform has rolled into the battle in Ukraine with new builds and donations from existing fleets and once more this is informing the way forward in future spiral development.

All this flagrant flaunting of equipment was in stark contract to the Arquus stand where its “Batman truck” IFV MAV’Rx in the blackest of matt blacks and topped with a 30mm gun was hidden behind walls. Hidden in the largest storage closet at the show and with stand security more intimidating than a New Zealand All Black backline made it tougher to get an audience with than King Charles III.

The MAV’Rx is a beast with few, if any, in the same class and size and features a monocoque welded steel structure with applique passive armour. It is powered by a front-mounted Volvo diesel engine producing 400hp, paired with a ZF fully automatic transmission. It is equipped with a central tire inflation system to enhance cross-country mobility.

The prototype hidden away was equipped with the John Cockerill Defence Cockerill Protected Weapon Station, which includes a stabilised 25mm cannon and a 7.62mm machine gun. The vehicle also has the Pillar gunfire detection system, which is commonly used in French Army armoured vehicles.

Meanwhile, under funding from the EU aimed at renewing a European technical capability in the manufacture of ATVs, Patria is leading a nine country consortium and has designed and built two test beds of a new ATV concept vehicle called FAMOUS (Future Highly Mobile Augmented Armoured Systems).

Few technical details have been released on FAMOUS but a gross vehicle weight of around 15 tonnes is claimed of which 3.5 tonnes, is payload. It can cross a 2m ditch and climb a gradient of 60%. Depending on the payload, it is also fully amphibious, being propelled in the water by its tracks at a maximum speed of up to 4km/h.

Patria FAMOUS test bed is fitted with wide rubber band tracks for increased cross-country mobility and lower ground pressure to enable it to operate in marginal terrain. (Photo: Christopher F Foss)

UGVs, old and new and of different classes, littered the stand floors and outside with one of the more interesting being the large wheeled Drailer UGV from Arquus and one of the more notable revelations being L3Harris’s plans for a dual arm for its T7 and T4 robots.

The dual arm  would have one for heavy lifting and another for more dexterous roles such as cutting wires or opening small bags or boxes as an alternative to just blasting away with kinetic devices in these situations.

Other vehicle tweaks were ongoing with Texelis talking about its new Celeris 6x6 and Babcock about a medium wheelbase General Logistics Vehicle which builds around the Land Cruiser 70.

What does all this mean? Is it the great reset which brings new versions of systems decades old out of retirement with a refresh or is it a Hollywood-style reboot of an old franchise but obviously without the caveat that the industry has no new ideas?

The next years will provide some clarity so we may have a better idea at Eurosatory 2026 in what will likely be a post-Ukraine war world, and possibly Trump-tainted NATO, as pen is put to paper to re-energise vehicle fleets and weapons in the face ongoing current threats, or new ones, and maybe a changed geo-political situation.

Shephard's Eurosatory 2024 coverage is sponsored by:

BAE Systems
Damian Kemp


Damian Kemp

Damian Kemp has worked in the defence media for 25 years covering military aircraft, defence …

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Sam Hart


Sam Hart

Sam Hart is the Land Analyst for Shephard Media's Defence Insight. Before joining Shephard, Sam …

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