05 November 2015
Lundin X-18 tank boat (image : Lundin)
One of the most innovative product designs being exhibited at D&S 2015 is the X18 "Tank Boat" developed by PT. Lundin (North Sea Boats) in cooperation with Pindad and CMI Defence. Also involved in the project is OIP Sensor Systems which will be responsible for the boat's sensors suite.
John Lundin from PT Lundin explained to MT that the X18 concept builds on some of the ideas of Igor Sikorsky whose company Sikorsky Aircraft developed an Assault Support Patrol Boat prototype during the Vietnam war. Armed with a 105mm gun as well as two 20mm guns, the ASPB prototype was delivered to the US Navy in 1969, too late to see operational use in Vietnam. It was subsequently used by US special forces to train for riverine warfare until 1980 when it was withdrawn from service. Lundin said that like the US forces that were deployed in Vietnam, many countries in Asia and elsewhere are in need of better boats for riverine operations. Aimed at "filling a niche in the market", the X18 appears well suited for Indonesia's military that is confronted with defending an archipelago that consists of over 17,000 islands and which understands that most populated areas are located near the country's vast network of rivers or near the coast. It is known that the heavy Leopard 2 MBTs which Indonesia has purchased from Germany cannot deal with much of the country's terrain including its ricefields or many of its bridges. Hence, PT. Lundin's decision to develop a "tank boat" that features a turret that has "almost half the weight of traditional turrets". This is where CMI Defence from Belgium comes in.
The company's lightweight Cockerill CT-CV 105HP turret that features a 105mm gun is on the one hand capable of providing direct fire support, an essential capability needed to destroy hardened positions using HESH rounds for instance when supporting an amphibibious assault. However, the lightweight turret also enables indirect fire support up to 10 km due to the gun's elevation which can reach 42 degrees. In addition, the gun can be used to launch the Cockerill Falarick 105 anti tank guided munition which is guided by SAL and which has a range of 5 km. To be manned by a crew of four, the X18 will also typically feature a Bofors Lemur RCWS with a 7.62mm machinegun and a 30mm cannon.
To be powered by two MAN 1200 HP diesel engines driving two MJP450 waterjets, the versatile "tank boat" will also be able to accommodate 20 troops and a RIB that can be used for interdiction or insertion of forces. Alternatively, it could also be used for logistics support up river or for medevac, Lundin claims. A foil assisted catamaran design with a draught of 1 m, the X18's hull material consists mainly of infused vinylester composite. "The challenge was to develop a small boat that can cope with the recoil of a 105mm gun", Lundin said. Unlike Sikorsky's steel monohull design which Lundin says was three times as heavy, the 18 m X18 will feature a gyrostabilized gun and better protection. In an effort to save weight and improve protection at the same time, Lundin says he will opt for "integrating the materials needed for ballistic protection into the boat's structural design". Meanwhile, CMI's regional director Patrick Ledig indicated during the event in Bangkok that "the (Indonesian) MoD has indicated that it wants to join the R&D project" with potential government to government sales to countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America likely to be looked into.