Wörth/Koblenz -- Mercedes-Benz Special Trucks is to supply the German armed forces with 110 Zetros GTF armoured logistics vehicles. The Federal Office of Defence Technology and Procurement and Daimler AG signed a corresponding agreement on 14 May 2012. Under the terms of the agreement, the German armed forces are to receive 25 Zetros 4x4 GTFs in the course of this year.
"With the Zetros GTF from Mercedes-Benz, the German armed forces will be taking delivery of a new class of armoured logistics vehicle tailored specifically to the given requirements," noted Michael Dietz, Head of Sales and Marketing at Mercedes-Benz Special Trucks. "At the same time, we are able to deliver the vehicles with a very short lead time because the concept largely employs components from the established large-scale production series," he added.
Hans Thünemann, Project Group Director U4 at the Office of Defence Technology and Procurement, focused on the aspect of protection for crews: "We attach high priority to protecting crews. With the new Zetros, soldiers will be able to perform their logistics tasks safely even when under threat. It is important for us that the vehicles can be supplied and ready for deployment in the short term."
The in-service support manager for armoured wheeled vehicles at the Federal Armed Forces Logistics Office, lieutenant-colonel Manfred Klaffus, described the military requirements as follows:
"The criteria previously applied with regard to the procurement of vehicles for soldiers of the German federal armed forces have had to be adapted in the face of the asymmetric security situation which has prevailed in Afghanistan since the middle of the last decade at least, involving an extremely complex spectrum of dangers. On the basis of the two system capability specifications "Capability of armoured tactical mobility in land-based operations" and "Road transport on deployment", a Final functional specification for armoured vehicles was established in order to provide soldiers on deployment with effective protection against the high level of danger in particular from IEDs.
While the procurement of armoured leading and functional vehicles is well underway, with a broad range of different categories of vehicle already in use now for some years and lives having been saved in numerous instances as a result, to date the area of armoured transport vehicles has still been covered primarily by temporary solutions (e.g. older vehicles with modular armour)."
In the five-ton payload class, only the Zetros 4x4 GTF from Mercedes-Benz – the sole cab-behind-engine vehicle in contention – was found to meet the armed forces' requirements. A trial vehicle underwent in-depth testing at the defence technology offices from 2008, displaying convincing performance on all fronts. The offer submitted by Mercedes-Benz at the end of 2011 provides the basis for the agreement which has now been concluded on the delivery of 110 Zetros GTFs.
The first 4 of the 25 vehicles to be delivered in 2012 are set to pass through the integrated verification process to confirm due delivery in accordance with the terms of the agreement and to determine their suitability for deployment. At the end of this process, the approval for use will be issued. The remaining 85 armoured logistics vehicles will be delivered up to July 2014. With the Zetros GTF, Mercedes-Benz will be supplying the German armed forces with the first armoured transport vehicles designed specifically for this capability profile.
MOBILITY AND PROTECTION FROM THE SERIES-PRODUCTION PROGRAMME
The Zetros 1833A 4x4 GTF cab-behind-engine vehicle has been designed specifically for operation in difficult territory. Powertrain and chassis originate from Mercedes-Benz's large-scale production programme, with assemblies which have been tried and tested on numerous deployments. This ensures reliable operation even in adverse conditions and a dependable supply of replacement parts through Mercedes-Benz's worldwide service organisation. The use of series-production components and assemblies additionally enables a short response time between receipt of order and delivery of the entire order volume.
CONVINCING CAB-BEHIND-ENGINE DESIGN
The cab-behind-engine design means that the engine/transmission unit is located under a bonnet over the front axle. For maintenance and repair work, the bonnet can be tilted forward independently of the cab, affording access to the assemblies.
This arrangement for the drive and cab results in a low overall height for the vehicle, which not only improves its tactical mobility but also facilitates transport by rail or air through compliance with corresponding transport profiles. Last but not least, the cab-behind-engine concept results in a more even axle load distribution, which alters substantially in truck operations on account of varying payloads.
PROTECTION FOR THE CREW
The armoured cab, which is located behind the front axle, offers the crew two full-size seats and stowage space for their personal equipment and communications facilities. The cab is produced in armour steel with additional protection elements, ensuring the necessary protection against the prevailing threats in operation. The cab is equipped as standard with an effective ventilation system to afford protection from ABC weapons and with air conditioning.
POWERFUL DRIVE AND UNINTERRUPTED TRACTIVE POWER
The vehicle is powered by an OM 926 LA 6-cylinder in-line diesel engine complying with the Euro 3 standard. This engine is able to generate an output of 240 kW and maximum torque of 1300 Nm over a broad rev range even when running on poor-quality fuel, such as is commonly encountered in the field. A fully automatic Allison 3000 SP transmission with six forward gears transfers the tractive power without interruption to the two permanently driven axles. This means that the ideal tractive power is available at all times, particularly in difficult terrain, enabling the driver to concentrate fully on the special features of the terrain.
Assessment of the planned deployment of the Zetros GTF by the in-service support manager for armoured wheeled vehicles at the Federal Armed Forces Logistics Office, lieutenant-colonel Manfred Klaffus:
"The Mercedes-Benz Zetros GTF in the five-ton payload class is the first such high-tech vehicle to be introduced in the traditional area of armoured transport vehicles. With a robust chassis and a high level of protection for the cab, the Zetros GTF offers soldiers protection on a par with that provided by the armoured leading and functional vehicles which have been introduced to date. The extensive communication facilities and the self-defence capabilities resulting from integration of the FLW 100 weapons system will set a whole new benchmark in operational efficiency for this class of transport vehicle. Soldiers on deployment will have an armoured transport vehicle for a diverse range of tasks at their disposal which will improve their personal safety substantially, thus giving them the necessary assurance that they will be able to perform their tasks safely and reliably, even when high levels of potential threat prevail. The main area of use for the Zetros GTF will focus on supply operations between camps and outposts and escorting patrols."