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CV90 upgrade programme helps BAE meet growing demand for IFV

3rd June 2024 - 14:55 GMT | by Chris Croot in London


A CV90 MkIV conducting a ramp climbing test. (Photo: BAE Systems Hägglunds)

The CV90 IFV has seen demand rockets leading its manufacturer to increase investments in production facilities. Tarkan Turkcan, CV90 platform director for BAE Systems Hägglunds, outlined the latest CV90 updates for Shephard.

The BAE Systems Hägglunds CV90 has built a reputation as one of the world’s leading infantry fighting vehicles. From the outset, the CV90 was designed to offer maximum protection to the crew and troops traveling within, while remaining a highly mobile and potent infantry fighting vehicle (IFV).

Shephard spoke with Tarkan Turkcan, CV90 platform director for BAE Systems Hägglunds, for a programme update.

Development on the vehicle has focused on meeting new and emerging threats while staying true to its core design philosophy. The vehicle currently equips the armed forces of Sweden, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Switzerland and Ukraine, and has been ordered by the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

An extensive upgrade programme has been underway with the aim of ensuring it remains combat effective into the next decade. This upgrade is currently being applied to the Royal Netherlands Army Fleet and will also be implemented to Swedish and Danish vehicles. Many key features, as discussed below, will be included in the latest variant of the vehicle sold to Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

BAE has invested €300 million (US$382 million) in new production facilities to meet the growing demand for the IFV.

Dutch CV9035NLs undertakes MLU

A Mid-Life Upgrade (MLU) programme has been underway for the Royal Netherlands Army fleet of 144 CV9035NL vehicles. Three key parts of the MLU have been the introduction of the Spike-LR Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) launcher, a new Electro-Optic Panoramic Sight (EOPS) and Elbit System’s Iron Fist Active Protection System (APS).

Rather than mount the heavy new features to the existing turret, a new balanced design was selected, resulting in what Turkcan described as the “most optimised, balanced turret on the market today”.

The new design is centimetres lower than the legacy turret, but with significantly more space inside. The 35mm Bushmaster cannon has been positioned further forward in the turret, improving crew ergonomics and increasing ammunition storage capacity.

BAE worked directly with Dutch crews which it said had resulted in a more intuitive design.

“All of the buttons and switches were placed there by gunners and commanders,” Tarkan remarked. “The first time I put a Czech or Slovak [crew member] inside the turret they looked around and they understood it.”

A Dutch CV90 featuring Iron Fist APS. (Photo: BAE Systems Hägglunds)

MkIIIC offers customised design for different fighting environments

The latest factory built version of the CV90, the MkIIIC, has been based on the Dutch MLU vehicle. Some nations, however, have opted for design variations.

Tarkan explained: “The Dutch vehicle does not have a roof infantry hatch as they were focusing on protection. Sweden and Denmark will have one because of their operational requirements – the battle ranges for Sweden are very different.”

Armour details are classified but Tarkan confirmed the vehicle provided STANAG 4569 level 6 protection across the frontal arc. This has covered penetration up to and including 30mm APFSDS (armour-piercing fin-stabilised discarding sabot) and AP (armour piercing) rounds at a range of 500m. Additional protection against bomblet munitions has also been included in the Dutch MLU and MkIIIC variants.

Despite the new additions, the vehicle has remained under 40 tonnes.

“We do not compromise on mobility,” Tarkan said. “If you can’t get in or you can’t get out then you can’t get the firepower where you need it.”

On 21 May, BAE announced a contract with the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration for the sale of an undisclosed number of new-build CV9035 MkIIIC. These vehicles will replace the CV9040s previously donated to Ukraine. Also included in the order were new-build vehicles to be supplied directly to Ukraine.

First delivery of the MkIV, the variant selected by the Czech Republic and Slovakia, will be expected for the end of 2026/early 2027.

In addition to a new turret, APS and ATGM launcher, the vehicle will feature BAE’s iFighting networking technology. iFighting’s electronic architecture has met NATO’s Generic Vehicle Architecture (NGVA) standard, linking vehicles allowing crews to share information in real time to enhance situational awareness and targeting. The system will also allow vehicle crews, and theoretically troops in the cabin, to operate unmanned vehicles. 

Swedish demand for CV90s has been fuelled by its donations to Ukraine. (Photo: BAE Systems Hägglunds)

Learning lessons from Ukraine for future models

In February 2023, Sweden announced it would donate 51 CV90s to Ukraine. These vehicles first saw combat that July and have provided invaluable data on combat performance.

There have been a reported five CV90s damaged in Ukraine. As Tarkan highlights, however, “most importantly, the crews got out”. Reports from Ukrainian CV90 crews show Russian forces concentrate on trying to knock out CV90s when they arrive on the battlefield.

The use of loitering and FPV (first-person view) drones has come to dominate the conflict, leading to the adoption of screens or “Cope Cages” as a means of defence.

Screens have not yet been developed for the CV90. Tarkan argued that the solution lay in other technologies instead. The main weapon’s Universal Tank and Anti-Aircraft System (UTAAS) sight and fire-control system has been designed to target aerial targets and can be used against drones.

Jammers will also provide protection against single and swarm drone attacks, while the APS could be developed to provide defence as it would versus an incoming projectile.

Shephard's Eurosatory 2024 coverage is sponsored by:

BAE Systems
Chris Croot


Chris Croot

Chris Croot specialises in defence aviation writing, and has written for the AirForces Monthly family …

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