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John Cockerill’s Advanced Combat Boat

John Cockerill Defense offers a catamaran ship that can accommodate its towers and forms a highly mobile weapon system with high firepower suitable for the coastal and river region with cannons up to 105mm.

This system, called Combat Boat (Combat Boat), forms a fire support system for river operations, river and coastal waters in which units such as the Marine Infantry will have a highly mobile boat with great firepower.

John Cockerill Defense has been working with Indonesian companies Pindad and PT Lundin since 2011 on the development of the X-18 carbon fiber catamaran, which is equipped with the company’s various turrets from 25 to 105 mm and serves as a weapons platform for operations of this type in a country which is characterized by thousands of islands, such as Indonesia. A first prototype has already been put into operation, sea and fire tests have been carried out, and the United Arab Emirates announced their intention to purchase up to 100 X-18s.

It is a model boat that can conduct peacetime coastal patrol missions in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and in the river environment. It can also perform counterinsurgency and surveillance tasks, and can be used to protect infrastructure, address low-intensity conflicts, or combat drug trafficking organizations.

It can also deploy troops in areas inaccessible by road and provide them with supporting fire. It could be used to patrol shallow rivers, intercept smugglers and pirate ships, aid land-based counterterrorism, and secure river routes that are so important in Latin America.

The origin

It is a project based on the design of the Indonesian PT Lundin, who makes ships for high-speed coastal and river operations (between 40 and 50 knots), RHIB (Rigid-Hull iIflatable Boat) type inflatable semi-rigid and the company developed a 18 m long carbon fiber catamarn to which a powerful weapon system is to be added.

This is how we worked with John Cockerill Defense, who has already been represented in several programs in Indonesia, a country with a large coastline and many islands that they have to defend. Thus, a very versatile solution is combined that makes it possible to bring the troops into a position, to transport cargo and to offer high firepower.

Its advantages include the small profile as well as the high mobility and speed, which can be used in river and coastal operations and, thanks to their stability, enable shooting in motion. Depending on the weapon system added to the platform, it has a medium caliber (Oerlikon ATK Mk44 of 30mm) or a 105mm canister like that of a main battle tank, so it has a lot of capacity in different environments.

Depending on the type of mission, it can be used in different ways, but with the 105mm turret. When shooting in indirect fire mode, targets can be hit at a distance of 15 km. It is almost identical to the ones offered for land platforms with 6×6, 8×8 or rail wheels. Therefore, the company offers a similar solution in terms of logistics, training, support, parts and maintenance of the life cycle.

This offer revolves around the modular cockerill 3000 tower concept, which is why towers of different calibers that can be used in land vehicles or boats and share spare parts, components and human-machine interfaces are up to 70% common. In the case of the combat boat, the tower is installed as if it were remote-controlled and can be operated by a commander and a rifleman or a single man, depending on the customer’s wishes.

The 30 mm can. Fires standard HEI (High Explosive Incendive) ammunition, training rounds, and APFSDS (Disposable Shell Fin-Stabilized Armor-Piercing Projectile) cartridges for penetration. Also available is the Norwegian NAMMO APFSDS-T MK 258 Mod 1, which drives underwater with high efficiency. Originally developed for the US Marine Corps, in this configuration it would be very effective for combating ships and attacking underwater targets such as mines.

As for the ship, John Cockerill Defense can customize its towers to match those built in the customer’s country of around 15-20m. of length, with different possibilities with the only limitation on the weight of the tower, since the payload is between 2 and 4 tons, depending on the tower chosen and the amount of ammunition (in the case of the 105 mm solution Ton weight).

Photo: Replica of a coastal operation with the X18 (PT Lundin)

Likewise, a certain surface area and flat surface for mounting the tower and a power supply are required for the operation of the systems. Ultimately, the size of the boat will determine its stability and ability to shoot on the go, with the manufacturer claiming that they can shoot accurately even in state 3 at sea.

Interest in Latin America

In this region, it is ideal for river operations because of the extensive rivers in the region such as the Amazon. It has a very shallow draft, can move far upstream to provide support fire, transport troops to a specific area and cargo, and deploy an RHIB when it goes into a very shallow area.

It reaches 40 knots, making it ideal for river-like operations and also for nearby coastal areas such as the protection of oil or gas fields in Brazil. Also in Chile with its 4,000 km. Coast it would be more than helpful. In Colombia, it is adapted to the area of ​​the rivers and used to combat drug trafficking in order to be able to counter the ships used for drug smuggling and to have enough firepower to neutralize them.

This is how we verified it in the last edition of the Colombian trade fair Expodefensa. In that country, such a system could be housed on a ship from the Cotecmar National Shipyard, equipped with a CPWS (Cockerill Protected Weapon System) tower, which can also serve as a platform for operating unmanned aircraft with rigid hose boats. RHIB, multipurpose missile systems or even as logistical transport, due to its open configuration and the multipurpose zone located aft.

It is therefore an option that is of interest not only to Colombia, but to all Latin American countries with major river communication routes, shallow riverside and coastal areas where such a ship would play different roles, from monitoring illegal activities against insurgent groups and providing support the action of ground units with their firepower and precision.

In addition, deploying the same tower on land platforms would result in large economies of scale, both in acquisition and in training and maintenance over the life of the equipment. The company is ready to work with local firms and use its technology transfer model to assemble the towers in the country where they were purchased.

John Cockerill Defense will supply the main components of the turret, the 105mm cannon. that they manufacture in their factories in northern France and the automatic ammunition loader that allows a speed of 6 rounds / min. Electro-optical systems from local companies can also be integrated. (Jos Mara Navarro)

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