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The Bundeswehr is currently taking delivery of seven newly-developed high-performance vehicle systems designed to counter the threats posed to troops by unexploded ordnance, mines and IEDs. Delivery is scheduled for completion by the end of the year.

Specifically configured for the EOD role, the KAI is a variant of Rheinmetall’s proven FUCHS 1A8 armoured vehicle and represents a quantum leap in the German military’s ability to detect and identify unexploded ordnance and similar battlefield hazards. High-performance electronics and a precision, multi-jointed, versatile manipulator arm featuring state-of-the-art sensors, mean that Bundeswehr bomb disposal experts will now be able to reconnoitre, mark, expose and identify suspicious objects from a safe distance.

The FUCHS KAI reinforces the Bundeswehr’s array of heavy-duty EOD vehicles and is designed to investigate vulnerable points which the Route Clearance System (reported by MON on 5 May) cannot reach. Furthermore, the KAI is intended to serve as a stand-alone system capable of operating without the Route Clearance System in a convoy support role.

Extremely well protected from mine and IED blasts, KAI is equipped with advanced force protection elements and mine-resistant seats that keep the crew’s feet safely off the floor. Its most prominent feature is the multi-jointed, high-precision manipulator arm, with a maximum operating reach of over 10m and a load-carrying capacity of 400kg. This enables EOD personnel operating in the fighting compartment to investigate suspicious locations and to examine and identify ordnance and booby traps with great precision from a safe standoff.

Besides the basic tool, the manipulator can accommodate two other tools: a dual sensor (the 80cm  variant employed by the Route Clearance System), used for investigating suspicious spots; and a tool camera. Mounted on a tilt-and-pan head, this device can examine hard-to-view places such as drainage pipes, the undersides of bridges or locations behind walls in order to detect the presence of an explosive device, for example. To enable visual reconnaissance, the system features high-performance optronic technology, while an optronic wipe-and-wash system makes it possible to quickly clean the camera during operations, significantly boosting tactical flexibility.

Other core elements of the KAI are its water-air spade system, with a maximum operating pressure of 400bar, and a ripper chisel, enabling the crew to uncover suspicious objects which cannot be clearly identified. Marking can be done digitally, either within the system by means of precise GPS coordinates, or with an optical marking device for the dismounted bomb disposal engineer. Moreover, the manipulator arm can be fitted with a recovery system for removing personnel from a danger zone.

With its distinctive manipulator arm to the fore, Rheinmetall’s KAI will bring a quantum leap in EOD capability to Bundeswehr armoured units. (Photo: Bundeswehr/Gerd Benndorf)

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