Ruag, a technology partner of the Swiss Armed Forces, teamed up with Rheinmetall to manufacture and market the armored engineer and mine clearance Leopard vehicle.The vehicle represents a technological world first based on a Leopard-2 chassis. Alongside its military capability, it can be equipped to provide valuable support in the event of disasters or for civil-military collaboration.
Delivery of the units to the Swiss Armed Forces was delayed to iron out problems with the power shovel hydraulics that surfaced during endurance tests under extreme military operational conditions.
The system was optimized jointly by Rheinmetall and RUAG and successfully subjected to a battery of tests involving other components.
Commenting on the hand-over, Ruag Defence CEO Urs Breitmeier says: "What makes the armored engineer vehicle special is that it has to be able to cope with extreme situations. Unlike a regular excavator, it has to be able to withstand temperatures ranging from -40 to 60 degrees Celsius. Endurance tests have shown this is to be the case, as a result of which we have now reached product maturity. I am delighted to be in a position to hand over the powerful Leopard AEV to armasuisse before the end of the year."
The armored engineer and mine clearance vehicle features a powerful hinged-arm excavator with a quick-release coupling allowing the excavator bucket to be exchanged for a number of other engineering devices including a bulldozer system with innovative cutting and tilt angle settings and a double-winch system consisting of two 9 tonne capstan winches. If the need arises, the dozer blade can be swapped for a full-width mine plough. This turns the vehicle into a high performance minefield-breaching system that is also capable of clearing field fortifications and installing or clearing obstacles and barriers.
Prior to the AEV's release to the troops, which is timed to coincide with the 3rd military training intake in 2012, training in the vehicles will be given to the professional cadre of the Armed Forces' training units and Logistics maintenance specialists.