Heavy Tractor SaZgM

Quiet signals: Return of large scale mechanised warfare

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Rheinmetall told in the end of may that company had received an order from the German armed forces – Bundeswehr – to supply another 57 heavy tractor units – contract worth over €50 million.

Heavy tractor does not sound sexy neither get medias eye and big headlines, even when there is question about big money. 

Mechanized warfare in large scale is possible only if you have a long logistic tail. At least if you have decided to create the sum of the mobility, firepower and protection by maintaining heavy main battle tank (MBT) fist. 

And the logistic tail is the think to note when observing the change in developing armed forces. 

EU, Germany, Bundeswehr or Rheinmetall are of course not threatening anybody. There is no any need neither capability to such in peaceful, democratic Europe, but Russian action in Ukraina forces us in NATO and EU to send a signal to keep the threshold high enough to prevent the escalation and to help Ukraina. 

Tanks are not marching in strategic scale without transportation. Russian army is depended on railway transportation. That makes them depended on railway infra and denies their operational and strategic freedom. 

For flexible operations you need ability to heavy wheeled logistic support, transport and maintenance. 

Rheinmetall heavy tractor units in the 70-tonne payload class are one strong answer to the question how to move MBT:s on strategic and operational level. ”Known as the “SaZgM 70t mil” in German military parlance, the unprotected heavy-duty trucks are scheduled for delivery in 2023 and 2024. The total value of the order is worth just over €50 million, including value added tax. The German armed forces use the trucks primarily for transporting heavy armoured vehicles like the Leopard 2 main battle tank and the PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzer.

Just booked, the current order is the last call-off from a framework contract signed in 2018 for the delivery of up to 137 SaZgM 70t mil trucks. Under the framework agreement, which had a 7-year lifetime, eighty tractor units have already been ordered and delivered to the Bundeswehr.

Rheinmetall’s HX81 tractor units are powered by an eight-cylinder 680 hp diesel engine. This gives the high-mobility all-wheel-drive truck a top speed of 89 km/h and the ability to climb gradients of 60 percent. The Gross Train Weight of the system is 130 tonnes. The HX81 tractor unit has the same driver’s cab as Rheinmetall’s UTF family of vehicles. If necessary, the cab can be exchanged for a protected version. It comes with a Rotzler double action winch system, with a combined maximum tractive force of 40 tonnes, enabling the all-terrain tractor unit to tow vehicles onto the trailer. 

Logistic vehicles play a crucial role in assuring the operational effectiveness of combat units, enabling a rapid response and subsequent sustainment in the field. Being able to transport heavy combat vehicles is a key capability in national and alliance defence. The HX81 complements the Bundeswehr’s SLT heavy transport vehicle. Besides the unprotected HX81, Rheinmetall also supplies the Mammut protected heavy transport vehicle, along with the UTF unprotected transport vehicle and the WLS hook loading system.” Rheinmetall informed may 26th.