Bushmaster Electronic Warfare Vehicles for Dutch Army

Dutch Army TPz Fuchs-1 EW Vehicle (Rheinmetall) – The Dutch Army’s TPz Fuchs-1A1 electronic warfare vehicles pictured here are to be replaced by new Bushmaster-based EW platforms, the first of which was delivered in early July.

In early July, the Dutch Army took delivery of its first new Bushmaster electronic warfare vehicle, paving the way for the possible retirement of existing EW platforms.

The Koninklijke Landmacht (Royal Netherlands Army) has one electronic warfare unit, the 102nd EW Company, which forms part of the multi-service Joint Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance Command. The 102 EW Company supports the 13th Light Brigade and 43rd Mechanised Brigade, the army’s two manoeuvre formations.

TPz Fuchs-1A1

In 1991 the force received the first of 18 Daimler-Benz TPz Fuchs-1 series electronic warfare vehicles, some of which were converted to support nuclear, chemical and biological defence. These vehicles were delivered in a similar configuration to those used by the Heer (German Army).

Open sources state that the 102 EW Company possesses two EW platoons. Each of these platoons is believed to have four TPz Fuch-1A1 Eloka Communications Intelligence (COMINT) gathering vehicles, and two TPz Fuchs-1A1 Hummel platforms tasked with electronic attack. A truck-mounted command and control system coordinates these assets.

Details on the capabilities of the TPz Fuchs-1A1 systems remain scant. It is reasonable to assume that the TPz Fuchs-1A1 Eloka can detect and locate Very/Ultra High Frequency (V/UHF) transmissions across wavebands of at least 30 megahertz to three gigahertz, and possibly also decrypt complex tactical communications waveforms.

Their accompanying TPz Fuchs-1A1 Hummel platforms will probably perform electronic attack in these wavebands. Sources continue that the TPz Fuchs-1A1 Eloka vehicles have a jamming mast 19 metres (62.3 feet) high. This may enable the detection of V/UHF transmissions at ranges of up to 17 kilometres (eleven miles) for ground-based tactical radios.

Bushmaster Capabilities

On 5 July, the Dutch army received the first of an undisclosed number of Thales Bushmaster four-wheel drive protected mobility vehicles configured for electronic warfare. Sources close to the acquisition have told Armada that a total of twelve vehicles will be delivered. These will be drawn from the army’s existing fleet of Bushmasters. The force procured a total of 104 Bushmasters between 2006 and 2009.

Published pictures of the new vehicle appear to show it equipped with a High Frequency (HF: three megahertz-30MHz) antenna. This implies that the platform can detect and locate HF transmissions, as well as V/UHF traffic. This would be a qualitative increase vis-à-vis the TPz Fuchs-1A1 vehicles which were not thought to have any capability to detect or attack HF traffic.

Moreover, the Bushmaster seems to include a set of antennas to counter drones and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). These could be used to electronically attack the radio frequency link connecting a UAV to its ground control station. Drones and UAVs use 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz frequencies reserved for this purpose by the International Telecommunications Union.

Both the counter-drone/UAV system, and the vehicle’s HF and V/UHF antennas are mounted on extendable masts. A cursory examination indicates that the platform could have an effective detection and electronic attack range for ground-based V/UHF emitters of circa 17 kilometres (nine metres) when the mast is fully extended.

The Dutch Army was contacted during the preparation of this article to obtain more details regarding this recent acquisition, and the capabilities of the EW Bushmasters, but received no reply prior to the publication of this article.

by Dr. Thomas Withington