INSIDE THE DEAL
QinetiQ and Texelis sign strategic partnership to target armoured vehicle market
24 May 2021 | By Harry Lye
QinetiQ and Texelis announced last week that they had entered into a strategic partnership to jointly deliver in-wheel electric hub drive technology for armoured vehicles.
Under the partnership, Texelis will manufacture hub drive technology at market scale and QinetiQ will supply core electrification technology and expertise. In a statement, the companies said a joint approach would leverage both companies’ engineering and technology expertise.
QinetiQ’s chief technology officer Mike Sewart said: “We are very excited to be partnering with Texelis in this fundamental component of military platform modernisation. QinetiQ’s Electric Drive capability has been in research and development for many years.
“We’ve leveraged our insight into global platform mobility solutions and electrification and designed a solution to be used in the most advanced of military scenarios. Through our strategic partnership with Texelis, we will be enhancing and scaling this capability to deliver solutions for our customers at pace.”
Hub drive technology combines electric propulsion with mechanical and regenerative breaking within a single package. The companies added that efficiency and size had been weaknesses of previous attempts at electric propulsion for wheeled military vehicles that use direct drive motors. The agreement will also see Texelis design the suspension system for the electric wheel hub.
Texelis managing director for defence Jean Vandel said: “This is a very important area of development, both for Texelis and the military vehicle market worldwide. The electric hub drive enables enhanced power, system efficiency and the ability to operate silently using the battery as a source of power.
“This allows us to rethink the vehicle power architecture completely and discard conventional axle and driveshaft design constraints. This offers vehicle OEMs much greater freedom to design the best, most flexible vehicles for tomorrow’s battlefield. We are extremely pleased to join with QinetiQ under this strategic agreement to enable military customers to access this design.”
The partnership will also work together to market a wheel station controller and power and services through a design for manufacturing process.
Texelis will base production at its facility in Limoges, France.
Image credit: Qinetiq
Controversy remains over the deal
When the State Department gave Congress informal notice of the potential deal last month, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Representative Eliot L. Engel said that the sale “would significantly change the military balance in the Gulf and affect Israel’s military edge” adding that rushing approval of the deal was “not in anyone’s interest”.
Engel added: “My consideration of this sale will include several factors. First, we must maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge, as provided in US law, and ensure Israel’s military superiority in the region, as Israel remains our most crucial ally there. Israel currently has exclusive access in the region to the F-35, which has guaranteed its military edge over the last several years. As Congress reviews this sale, it must be clear that changes to the status quo will not put Israel’s military advantage at risk.”
The lawmaker said that increased activity from Russia and China in the Middle East meant that Congress would need ‘unimpeachable assurances’ that the fighter’s advanced technologies would be safeguarded. He added that a sale to the UAE would ‘inevitably’ generate demand for the jet from other neighbouring countries. In October, Qatar made a formal request to purchase the F-35.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Senator Bob Menendez said: “As feared, the details of this proposed sale suggest President Trump is seeking to rush through an increase of complex weapons systems into a volatile region seemingly without serious consideration of US interests or the legal parameters of Israel’s qualitative military edge.
“Claiming Israel will maintain its edge while offering Abu Dhabi the same number of these sophisticated stealth warplanes as Israel simply does not add up. Recklessly accelerating the timeline around a reportedly artificial deadline precludes sufficient consideration of these issues by the national security professionals in the Departments of State and Defense.”
Menendez added: “Congress has statutory authority over foreign arms sales and our responsibilities will not be relinquished. The American public has a right to insist that the sales of US weapons to foreign governments – especially those of this magnitude and lethality – are consistent with US values, our national security objectives, and the safety of our closest allies.
“The Trump administration’s refusal to answer our questions about how the national security interests of both the US and Israel will be served, or undermined, by such a sale is a sure-fire way not to get Congressional support to move forward with this sale.”
Will President-elect Biden change course?
After the potential F-35 sale became public in October, Anthony Blinken, a Foreign Policy Advisor to Biden and former Obama-era official, was reported by the Jerusalem Post as saying that he had ‘concerns’ about what commitments the US Government may have made to the UAE.
Since then, US President Donald Trump lost his re-election bid, with President-elect Joe Biden set to take office in January. Democrat Senator Chris Murphy said that the Trump administration approving the sale after losing the election was “completely inappropriate”, adding: “It's a transparent attempt to narrow options in the Middle East for President-elect Biden when he takes office.”