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High-performance systems

Defence and aerospace specialist Patria focuses on three main areas: armoured wheeled vehicles, mortar systems, and ammunition products; services for military aircraft and helicopters; and command and control systems.

Patria has grown rapidly in recent years and today employs around 3,400 high-tech professionals across its businesses, with a particular focus on product development. Around 85% of net sales are generated by defence contracts, and all customers benefit from competitive solutions based on Patria’s specialist in-house know-how and extensive network of partnerships.

Strategic partnerships are central to Patria’s business model, and one of the latest partnerships to be given a formal framework has been that between the Finnish army and Millog, a member of the Patria Group.

This has seen the army outsource material life-cycle support for platforms and systems used by non-armoured and armoured vehicles, electronics, and weapon systems to Millog under a unique service concept. The concept has proved a success during its first year of operation and looks set to achieve even more in the future.

As part of the contract, Millog has developed the optronics skills centre at Lievestuore in Finland to reinforce its position as the Nordic region’s only industrial producer of precision optics for military applications

Building new capabilities

The demand for increasingly advanced systems and integrating them into a range of platforms is growing all the time, and is an area where Patria has developed extensive capabilities.

The upgrade of the Finnish Air Forces’ fleet of Mk 51 Hawk trainers includes an aircraft glass cockpit systems integration solution designed and implemented by Patria.

Reflecting this, Patria was recently selected to join an international partnership moving ahead with a series of air defence missile and surveillance system projects for the Finnish armed forces. Patria will take part in building launchers and system integration and handle a significant part of the software design and equipment shelter rearmament and modifications.

Patria’s expertise in life-cycle management was highlighted in the summer of 2009 when the company handed over the first upgraded Hawk jet trainer to the Finnish Air Force at the Paris Air Show. The upgrade of the Hawk Mk 51 fleet includes an aircraft glass cockpit systems integration solution designed and implemented by Patria. The integration of modern computer-based systems and equipment with existing avionics and other hardware will improve the quality of fighter pilot training using the aircraft significantly.

The project builds on the work Patria has done over many years in maintaining Hawk trainers in Finland. The work on the Mk 51s will be followed by the modernisation of recently purchased Mk 66s. The upgraded Hawks will provide the Finnish Air Force with an excellent platform for better jet training, both for its own pilots and foreign military pilots under the umbrella of the Nordic Pilot Training Centre (NPTC) that is being set up at the Kauhava air base as a joint effort with Patria.

The patria AMV success story

Project management is one of Patria’s key areas of expertise and has been central to enabling it to make the leap from being a product supplier to a true solutions supplier. One area where this know-how is proving increasingly important is armoured wheeled vehicles.

A Patria AMV in service with Polish forces in Afghanistan. Known as Rosomaks in Poland, a large number of the vehicles have been assembled in Poland by WZM. Patria AMVs offer excellent protection, performance, and modularity, and can be adapted to a wide range of needs without changing basic systems.

The latter have proved very successful for Patria, and new contracts for these units rely to an increasing extent on local production in the countries that buy them and extended supply chains.

The first prototype Patria Armoured Modular Vehicle (AMV) was produced in 2001, since when Patria AMV 8x8s have proved their worth in numerous markets, with well over 1,300 vehicles contracted and several hundred already delivered to defence forces in Poland, Finland, Slovenia, South Africa, Croatia, and the United Arab Emirates. They have also been used successfully by international peacekeeping forces in Afghanistan and Chad.

Recent deals have seen Croatia deciding to buy 42 additional Patria AMVs under a deal with Patria and Duro Dakovic Special Vehicles as a follow-on to a contract for 84 Patria AMV 8x8s signed in October 2007.

The Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) contracted Patria to supply 113 Patria AMV 8x8s in five different versions for the Swedish army, together with an option for an additional 113 vehicle systems, in June 2009. Although the contract has been put out to tender again because of procurement process issues in Sweden, Patria is confident that the quality and excellent user references of the Patria AMV will win out again in the new tender process.

Preparing for the future

2009 also saw Patria focus on developing its service business concept and organisation to meet the future needs of its main customer, the Finnish defence forces, and those of its other customers.

This work is designed to further strengthen Patria’s in-house product development potential and ability to integrate, implement, and develop third-party systems.

> Satu Palm
(Published in HighTech Finland 2010)