Katja Kiukas describes the benefits of CBRN monitoring and military armoured vehicles from Environics.
Operations under evolving threat scenarios
Threat landscapes on modern battlefields are typically complex and evolving – challenging survivability, combat effectiveness and protection of military armoured vehicles and their crew. They may involve accidental releases and intentional use of CBRN threat agents both by state and non-state actors, with potential impacts on a national and international level in the midst of armed conflicts, peacekeeping, civil assistance, and operations involving weapons proliferation and counter-terrorism.
Vehicle categories for CBRN defence
The categorisation of military armoured vehicles reflects their intended battlefield roles and characteristics. There are dedicated vehicle classes for conducting highly specialised CBRN-related reconnaissance activities, defence and offense – as well as performing troop transport, command and control and logistics support.
They come in variable sizes, mobility and weaponisation. Typically, armoured combat vehicles have a key role in the military effectiveness of land forces, having firepower, mobility and protection as their key attributes to be balanced.
These vehicles comprise several categories – from Infantry fighting vehicles to main battle tanks and beyond – being wheeled or tracked, protected by armour, and combining operational mobility with offensive and defensive capabilities. More advanced CBRN reconnaissance vehicles belong to the versatile category of armoured support vehicles that are engaged in full CBRN defence, general support, command & communication, mortar carrying, and other secondary tasks.
CBRN reconnaissance vehicles operate with full, advanced CBRN capabilities built on point and stand-off detection principles, and environmental sample collection and analysis. Furthermore, they create situational awareness by area marking and by warning and reporting on their observations, findings and predictions.
Early warning to situational awareness
The role and operational context of military armoured vehicles affect naturally the type and the scale of CBRN protection and monitoring solutions implemented. Overall, CBRN defence in armoured vehicles always aims to minimise losses, protect forces and retain effective and fast operation by avoiding contamination and minimising protection and decontamination.
Preparedness against CBRN threats shows in the level of armoured vehicle design as well as life-supporting and CBRN sensor systems. The built-in multi-level armour system decreases the impact of CBRN agents on the vehicles, providing basic protection against these threats.
CBRN monitoring systems
CBRN filtration systems operate as the next line of defence against airborne hazards. What type of a role will vehicle CBRN monitoring systems therefore have?
In the first place, they can be considered as integral elements of smart and effective use of CBRN filtration systems and of gaining situational awareness, both at single vehicle level and also as an integral part of the bigger CBRN scheme.
The primary purpose of CBRN monitoring systems is to provide early-warnings for the detected, and at the later stage, identified presence of CBRN threats to combat troops and to initiate immediate protective measures. CBRN filtration must therefore work at the time of the threat event in order to minimise exposure.
The sensor systems are part of the general CBRN hazard awareness achieved through comprehensive data collection from various sources. Fusion of all the information leads eventually to an holistic understanding of the nature and characteristics of CBRN hazards and their impact on the operational environment and missions.
Both vehicle manufactures and end-users may find it challenging to implement elements of CBRN monitoring in a smart and functional manner. This means integration without losing balance between design and operational requirements, uncompromised performance, feasible level of protection and moderate acquisition and life-cycle costs.
One of the most important criteria for the selection of CBRN monitoring solutions for an armoured vehicle is defined by application and operational needs. This is a starting point for appropriate, proportional, and cost-effective CBRN monitoring solutions that serve the purpose optimally without compromising performance in real-life situations.
But what else do you need?
The search for outstanding user experience
Designing and operating armoured vehicles seems to be a puzzle with several stakeholders amidst changing landscapes and variable requirements for performance, tolerance, durability and maintainability in ever-demanding environments.
New vehicles are designed and manufactured and old ones are retrofitted to include new capabilities when needs and requirements evolve. Even though CBRN monitoring and protection may comprise a niche in overall capabilities of armoured combat vehicles, it holds a critical position in retaining combat effectiveness in real operational situations.
Eventually, selection of a reliable, experienced and agile partner for supplying CBRN monitoring solutions to armoured vehicle programmes will have crucial effects on the degree of time, money and efforts required by vehicle integrators and manufacturers for this specialist area of expertise.
It also helps to make informed CBRN architecture decisions, and to achieve the complete product experience and differentiation within the armoured vehicle concept. In the short and long term this selection will have a major impact on the user experience as well as on the overall success of the projects, and towards building a lasting relationship with military customers who need and care about armoured vehicles as crucial elements in their missions.
It is truly worth considering this if you look for design and implementation of a minimum treasured armoured vehicle or a minimum viable armoured vehicle. The second will conduct the intended tasks with the least effort, but the first alludes to vehicle operators who cannot live without their creations and will recommend them to other users. Which one would you choose? As we all know, CBRN is a battlefield – so select your wars and CBRN partners wisely!
Katja Kiukas is Applications Manager, Vehicle CBRN Solutions at Environics. She holds a MSc. in Cell Biology & a B.A. in Business Administration/Risk and Environmental Management and has gained 15 years of technical, application and business-oriented expertise in mobile and fixed installed CBRN systems and biological detection and identification. firstname.lastname@example.org
Example of a CBRN monitoring system layout comprising: chemical and gamma radiation monitoring for outdoor and indoor environment, biological monitoring for outdoor air, CBRN-filter control based on outdoor air monitoring and a Remote Alarm Unit and ModBus interface to vehicle BMS for situational awareness and control.