Sweden increases its military presence as Europe destabilises, adding a new level of importance for Scania military hardware.
Sweden abolished conscription back in 2010, ending over a century of enforced military service. But the latest moves by Russia in Eastern Europe have prompted the Swedes to rethink their strategy and increase the size of Swedish armed forces.
During the Cold War era, almost 85 percent of Swedish men were drafted into the army, due to the perceived threat of the Soviet Union. As military activity today increases in the Baltic region, following the annexation of Crimea in 2014, Sweden is once again demonstrating its concern that results from its close proximity to three former Baltic States, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania.
The Swedish Government has recently announced that up to 4000 men and women will be called up for military training in 2018 and 2019. What has changed is that conscription today is now based on gender equality.
An increase in military personnel requires additional investment in the infrastructure necessary to provide the required level of mobility and supply, bringing Scania into the front line of Sweden’s defence.
Scania is well known for its range of on-highway and off-highway trucks, but perhaps not so well known is the diversity of its applications, which have a heavy involvement in military supply.
In place of using vehicles designed specifically by the military, national defence organisations and their procurement divisions are turning more of their interest towards adapted commercial off-road capable trucks and commercial engines, rather than purpose-designed and very expensive equipment and components.
Major companies, such as Scania, can deliver on their ability to create strong partnerships and offer support throughout the vehicles’ total service lives, without any trade-offs regarding performance and ability.
“Defence customers have realised that they don’t have to settle for good-enough solutions, but can benefit from COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf products) capabilities and get virtually all the necessary functions, but with vastly reduced investments,” says Heikki Fant, product manager of defence at Scania Trucks.
“Instead of buying specialised, very costly solutions, they have realised that our robust, high-end trucks offers very attractive qualities. Scania’s state-of-the-art trucks stand for solid performance also when it comes to traits like robustness, reliability, traction and load carrying capacity”.
“Many defence customers ask for advanced ILS (Integrated Logistic Support) capabilities when they evaluate potential truck suppliers. Defence vehicles have to last for many years and be suited for different kinds of operations, often under unpredictable conditions. Fully-fledged ILS solutions secure proper maintenance and parts availability over time, regardless of what kind of operation the actual truck will face.
“Defence customers buy in to our philosophy with COTS and turn their attention to aspects such as service networks, spare parts commonality and long-term supply in order to decrease life cycle costs and secure vehicle availability,” added Heikki Fant.
The ability to resolve flexibility issues and offer access to a service network is made much easier because the military vehicles are built on the same modular principle as the existing international truck products. This means there is a close synergy between vehicles for the military, and those used in civilian transport operations.
As a result, all of the 1800 Scania service workshops in the world have the skills and equipment to service and maintain military vehicles 365 days a year. This international back up is further reason for not designing and trying to maintain a range of highly individual vehicles with limited resources.
For Scania engines, efficiency is the decisive characteristic regarding size and performance, as well as fuel consumption and maintenance. Scania engines range from 330 to 846 kW and are compact and efficient, as well as easy to install and maintain. Thanks to rational production with industry-leading quality standards Scania is able to supply both engines and parts with very short lead times.
Finland is a recent example of a customer that has prioritised partnership during the vehicles’ operational lives.
“The Finns realised that it doesn’t take military trucks to fulfil their needs,” said Heikki Fant.
“Trucks from Scania meet future demands from a technical perspective and are capable of handling alternative fuels without the need for any alteration. Due to Scania’s modular design, its truck range can be fully adapted for certain missions and demands within 24 hours, including sufficient armour. This increases the flexibility of fleet availability and reduces the need to have purpose-built vehicles standing idle between different missions,” he added.
In future planning by global defence forces there is also the possibility to introduce a degree of autonomous truck operation. It is expected that trucks capable of being operated remotely could one day replace the need to add costly and heavy armour protection to safeguard a driver and personnel. The cost is brought down substantially from the use of commercial solutions, while the reduction of exposure factor for human causalities is close to 100 percent.
The advantages of adhering to a modular design throughout engineering and powertrain solutions extends beyond the transport fleet on land to include comparatively similar engines used in marine activities as well as for power generation using stationary engines.
“Reliability, favourable fuel consumption and exceptional service life are among the most sought-after traits for engines in defence applications,” said Erik Karlsson, key account manager for Scania Engines.
“Our solutions have a proven track record in the defence industry, and, in combination with our global sales and service network, Scania has all the prerequisites for ensuring performance and operational fulfilment,” Mr. Karlsson added.
Scania power units provide leading fuel economy and exceptional torque rating already from low revs, making them equally suitable for combat vehicles and demanding marine applications – environments where high engine load is default mode.
The performance of Scania engines has been proven in a wide variety of operations, such as with off-road use in armoured wheeled and tracked vehicles for the Swedish BAE Systems Hägglunds CV90 series, the Finnish Patria AMV vehicle, and the Spanish BMR/VEC.
In marine use, Scania engines are used in the most critical applications, such as combat vessels and patrol ships as used by both the Swedish and Finnish Navy. Scania Gensets are available for a wide variety of applications, from standby power to prime power, with output spanning from 250 kVA up to 770 kVA.