U.K. MoD Contracts Cook Defence Systems to Manufacture Tracks for Russian, Western Tanks

Cook Defence Systems reverse-engineered Soviet-era equipment and employed techniques like laser scanning and robotics to develop tracks for Russia-made tanks.
  • Defensemirror.com bureau
  • 07:35 AM, February 26, 2024
  • 1849
U.K. MoD Contracts Cook Defence Systems to Manufacture Tracks for Russian, Western Tanks

The U.K. Ministry of Defence has awarded the British firm Cook Defence Systems (CDS) a multi-million-pound contract to manufacture tracks for Russian and Western tanks, as well as armoured vehicles damaged during the Ukrainian Conflict.

Thousands of Russian/Soviet-era tanks and armoured vehicles have been partially damaged in Ukraine, which can be put back into service by replacing their tracks and repairing minor damage to their armour. According to information from the Russian Ministry of Defence, 15,200 Soviet-era tanks in service with Ukraine have been partially or fully damaged, including some British Challenger and German Leopard tanks. Ukraine, on its part, claims destruction or damage to thousands of T-72, T-90, and other tanks in service with Russian forces.

An official statement from the U.K. Ministry of Defence reads: "Further to the artillery funding and missiles package, a new multi-million-pound series of contracts has been signed between the MOD’s procurement arm, Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S), and the U.K.-based Cook Defence Systems to provide hundreds of spare caterpillar tracks for tanks and armoured vehicles. This will allow the AFU (Armed Forces of Ukraine) to recover and restore vehicles damaged by anti-tank weapons and landmines. The contracts will involve a mixture of U.K. funding and funds from the International Fund for Ukraine."

Cook Defence Systems analyses and examines Soviet-era vehicles, including those salvaged from Ukraine, to develop new tracks catering to a variety of requirements. These tracks are intended to support numerous vehicle types, including abandoned Soviet-era platforms recovered by the Ukrainian armed forces and those provided by the U.K., such as Challenger 2 tanks and CVR(T) reconnaissance vehicles. The effectiveness of U.K.-provided capabilities, notably the Challenger 2 tank and Brimstone anti-tank missiles, has been acknowledged in battlefield situations.

U.K. MoD Contracts Cook Defence Systems to Manufacture Tracks for Russian, Western Tanks
Russia's newest T-90M battle tank destroyed by Ukraine @Ukraine MoD

On behalf of the U.K. and the U.K.-administered International Fund for Ukraine (IFU), Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) has awarded multiple contracts to CDS to supply spares for up to 500 Ukrainian armoured vehicles. The IFU contract was part of the over £100 million maintenance & manoeuvre support package announced in October 2023.

CDS Managing Director William Cook was quoted by UK Defence Journal as saying that the company had to reverse-engineer Soviet-era equipment using limited reference material and a lot of its own know-how, while working with the manufacturing processes and materials available to them rather than the original Russian ones. To reverse-engineer new tracks compatible with Soviet-era vehicles, CDS experts had to rely on museum pieces, Cold War reference documents, and technical experts on armoured vehicles. Although some of the vehicles supported by the company are Soviet-designed, the manufacturing techniques used by the company include laser scanning and digital x-ray inspection, with much of the physical production work performed by robots.

CDS specializes in creating lightweight and durable track systems, with the TR60 track systems, featuring a double-pin configuration, being utilized on platforms like CHALLENGER 2, TITAN, and TROJAN, as well as other vehicles weighing over 50 tonnes. Various track systems, including TR40, TR30, TR10, and TR20, cater to different weight categories. The company also offers legacy track systems, along with comprehensive solutions encompassing sprockets, roadwheels, idlers, rollers, and fitting and maintenance tools. Additionally, CDS extends its capabilities to design and manufacture high-strength and armoured steel castings for fighting vehicles.

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