Rheinmetall Lynx (KF)
Infantry Combat Vehicle (ICV) Prototype
The advanced Rheinmetall Raytheon Lynx KF41 is a candidate to replace the venerable M2 Bradley IFV vehicle series for the U.S. Army.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
The Lynx KF ("Kettenfahrzeug" = "Tracked Vehicle") is part of Rheinmetall's in-development family of Modular Combat Vehicles (MCVs). Major work began around 2015 and ultimately revealed the "KF31" standard the following year. The design has since been evolved into the newer "KF41" revealed at Eurosatory 2018 and this entry stands as a viable candidate to succeed the venerable "Bradley" Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) series of the United States Army.
The Bradley IFV was introduced in 1981 when there was still a "Cold War" (1947-1991) being fought between the West and the Soviet Union. This war, should it have gone "hot", would have taken place mainly in Europe and involved masses of Soviet tanks pouring over borders of several prominent European powers. As such, the West invested heavily in track-and-wheeled solutions to counter this real threat. A product of the period became the Bradley which was, in essence, part-tank / part-Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) to accomplish multiple roles on the then-modern battlefield through a singular design. This would entail not only bringing combat-ready troops to the fluid fronts under relative protection but also continuing the fight alongside these units through use of autocannons, Anti-Tank Guided-Missiles (ATGMs), and machine guns.
While some modern armies in Europe have shifted away from heavy, track-and-wheeled designs as of late, the United States and other leading military powers continue to invest in such vehicles. As such, the aging Bradley line is a candidate for modernization/replacement as the United States Army looks to the near-future where Russia and China are the primary foes and Europe or Asia becomes the main theater of operation.
Rheinmetall Landsysteme GmbH has headed design of its "Lynx KF" platform which incorporates a traditional track-and-wheel arrangement under an advanced hull design incorporating an all-new turret housing the primary armament. The project attempts to utilize many existing, off-the-shelf components that are proven and readily available to keep production and procurement costs to a minimum. This also aids logistics and maintenance/repair and the end-result is a combat vehicle in the 30-to-45 tonne range with strong ballistics protection, suitable power, and capable firepower.
Lynx Vehicle Walk-Around
As with other vehicles of this class, the Lynx is crewed by three - a driver (seated in the hull), a vehicle commander, and a gunner (the latter two residing in the powered turret). The turret sits over the middle of the hull roof for balance and access. The driver's position is at front-left in the bow with vision blocks detailing his entry-exit hatch area. This shifts the powerpack to his left and leaves the middle/aft-section of the hull open for a troop compartment which can house between six to eight combat-ready infantry depending on model (KF31 / KF41, respectively). An oversized door at the rear hull face allows these troopers to enter/exit the vehicle under some protection. Armor protection involves steel and applique add-on blocks/panels to counter the threat posed by modern projectiles and tank-killing missiles. The upper reaches of the hull sides are protected by armored "skirt" panels. The glacis plate (over the bow section) is well-sloped for maximum ballistics protection from incoming projectiles. All these qualities are consistent with modern IFV/ICV design.
Current dimensions of the Lynx include a running length of 7.75 meters, a beam of 3.6 meters, and a height to turret top of 3.3 meters.
Drive Power and Performance
Drive power is provided for by a Liebheer diesel-fueled unit outputting up to 1,140 horsepower and this component is mated to an Allison X300 or Renk series (model-dependent) automatic transmission system allowing the vehicle a top road speed nearing 70 kmh (range is assumed to be somewhere in the vicinity of 500 miles). The track-and-wheel arrangement encompasses six double-tired road wheels to a hull side with the drive sprocket at front with the track idler at rear. Track links are designed as wide for good ground pressure giving the vehicle an inherent soft-terrain driving capability and the Supashock suspension system provides the needed qualities for rough / off-road travel.
The Lance Turret
The "Lance" turret is an all-modern design housing an autocannon capable of defeating light-to-medium armor at range. The turret is completed as an angular enclosure for the two crew where the main armament is also integrated under a multi-faceted shroud extending from the frontal turret face. Alow-profile cupola is visible just behind the front turret face, offset to the left of the main gun. As is traditional, the main gun is backed by a 7.62mm machine gun in a coaxial fitting (alongside the main gun)and smoke grenade launchers provide a self-screening capability to the vehicle. The turret initially appeared in its "Lance 1.0" supporting a 30mm Rheinmetall MK30-2/ABM autocannon or the 35mm Wotan 35 weapon system and has since been evolved to the "Lance 2.0" standard housing a 35mm Rheinmetall /Wotan 35 autocannon with support for optional "Spike" Anti-Tank, Guided-Missile (ATGM) launchers (or similar) mounted to either side of the turret (by way of "mission pods".
The KF31 of 2016
The KF31, unveiled in 2016, carries an Allison X300 series automatic transmission and seats six personnel beyond its three operating crew. Power is from a 750 horsepower diesel-fueled unit offering road speeds reaching 65 kmh. The armament fit is centered on the Lance 1.0 turret emplacement.
The KF41 of 2018
The 44-tonne KF41, debuted in 2018, is dimensionally larger than the KF31 and has the Renk transmission fit while carrying eight combat-ready personnel. Power is from a 1,140 horsepower unit offering road speeds reaching 70 kmh. The armament fit is the Lance 2.0 turret emplacement which carries several primary and secondary survivability systems as well as the electrically-powered 35mm autocannon firing 35x228mm projectiles. The mission pods along each side of the turret can support ATGM launchers to enhance the vehicle's tactical value, particularly against enemy tank and other vehicle threats at range, and can also house battlefield UAVs which can be dispensed in a kamikaze-like role, serve to gather intelligence on enemy strength and positions, or actively jam enemy communications. The onboard systems allow for automatic target identification-and-tracking while also firing on-the-move thanks to its digital control scheme. Turret vision, and its natural traversal span, is a full 360-degrees. The KF41 model has a payload of up to 6 tonnes for maximum mission flexibility.
The KF41 marks the beginning of a whole new generation of combat vehicles centered on a modular-minded battle chassis suitable to take on other needed battlefield roles. These "mission kits" allow the ICV to become a multipurpose APC, battlefield ambulance, Command and Control (C2), or Armored Recovery Vehicle (ARV) with some modifications to the hull structure (and appropriate equipment being added - usually at the expense of the original turret fitting of the IFV model). Rheinmetall claims their vehicle can be modified to a new battlefield role in as little as eight hours and the benefits of cost, maintenance, and logistics of a shared chassis are certainly obvious. Even the systems architecture within is modular and adaptable to suit customer requirements. Likewise, protection levels are modular and can be organized in a way to suit the mission need and current fighting environment.
Survivability of the KF41 centers on ballistics, missile, mine, and Improvised Explosive Device (IED) protection. Again, the armor protection scheme is designed to be as modular as possible to support modification of the vehicle "in-the-field" and to the current battlefield danger. While other front-line combat vehicles reduce weight by thinning out top-facing surfaces, the Lynx enhances this traditionally weak area by including protection again lighter-minded, cluster-based munitions attempting to disable the vehicle from above. There is also active/passive missile protection offered by systems installed in the turret which is critical to surviving the threat of the ATGM as well as the more irregular aspects of the Rocket-Propelled Grenade (RPG) weapon.
The Lynx could very well be the future of the Infantry Combat Vehicle (ICV) for many leading world powers in the next decade for it showcases the needed protection scheme, drive power and performance, and inherent firepower required on the modern battlefield - a battlefield whose doctrine has since been rewritten by the recent fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.