Poland unveils first prototype of Tatra-based Heron 6×6 armored command vehicle

Poland unveils first prototype of Tatra-based Heron 6×6 armored command vehicle

As reported by ZBIAM on May 28, 2024, the Polish company Huta Stalowa Wola S.A. unveiled the first prototype of the Heron 6×6 wheeled armored vehicle, named P1, in the command vehicle variant during the XIII International Scientific Conference EKSPLOBALIS_2024, which began on May 27 in Jachranka near Warsaw. This prototype, which joins the list of vehicles based on the Czech Tatra 815-7 chassis, is designed for use as a command vehicle at the battalion commander level for mechanized battalions or artillery units.

This vehicle, similar to its smaller counterpart, the Waran 4×4, is the result of a collaboration between Huta Stalowa Wola S.A. and the Czech holding Czechoslovak Group, specifically Tatra Export s.r.o. This partnership was formalized through an agreement in September 2020, focusing on providing solutions for the Polish Armed Forces. The Heron 6×6 is equipped with internal communication and data processing equipment from TELDAT, including the BMS JAŚMIN Battle Management System for Battalion, Company, Platoon, and Squad Command, and the VIS JAŚMIN Onboard Communication System.

The Heron 6×6 is based on the TADEAS 6×6 armored vehicle (Tatra Defence Armoured Solution), utilizing the Tatra Force T 815-7 chassis and featuring two steerable axles – the first and third – which enhance maneuverability, even in difficult terrain. The drivetrain has been standardized with the one used in the serial Waran 4×4 vehicles. The Heron 6×6 prototype has armor rated at level 3 according to STANAG 4569A/B and a combat weight of up to 22 tons. The P1 prototype was adapted to Polish requirements and assembled in the Czech Republic, while the next prototype, P2, expected to be ready by autumn, will feature a higher degree of Polish integration.

The Heron 6×6 P1 prototype, completed just a few weeks prior, participated in the Field Experimentation Exercise (FEX 2024) held at the Land Forces Training Center in Nowa Dęba between May 20 and May 24, 2024. The purpose of this exercise was to verify solutions and technologies offered by the defense industry for the Future Task Force (FTF) concept. During these exercises, Huta Stalowa Wola S.A., along with its partners TELDAT and WB Group, showcased command vehicles at the battalion/brigade level on the Heron 6×6 and at the company/battery level on the Waran 4×4.

Access to the working compartment of the Heron 6×6 is facilitated by a rear ramp and two hatches in the roof, a design feature verified during the FEX 2024 exercises. The Heron 6×6, in its command vehicle variant equipped by TELDAT with data processing and internal communication equipment, is said to have made its debut during these exercises. The vehicles performed alongside the Waran 4×4 command vehicles, demonstrating the capabilities of both systems in an operational environment. A more detailed description of the new vehicle from Huta Stalowa Wola S.A. is expected to be published soon in the monthly magazine “Wojsko i Technika.”

The base for the Heron 6×6, the Czech TADEAS (Tatra Defence Armoured Solution) 6×6 armored vehicle, is designed for a variety of operational requirements, including firefighting, ambulance services, and military operations. Based on a Tatra Force T 815-7 chassis, the TADEAS 6×6 features independent suspension and steerable first and third axles, enhancing its off-road capabilities. It can accommodate a driver, commander, and up to 11 crew members, offering substantial space for coordinated operations. The vehicle can be equipped with ballistic protection up to level 4 and anti-mine protection levels M4a/M4b as per STANAG 4569 standards. Powered by a Caterpillar engine, the TADEAS 6×6 can achieve a top speed of 120 km/h, a maximum range of 700 km, and a load capacity of up to 10 tons.

This vehicle is based on the Tatra 815-7 Force chassis, which serves as the foundation for a diverse range of military and specialized vehicles, leveraging its renowned design for various operational needs. These include armored personnel carriers like the Autosan in Poland and the Fahd 300 in Egypt, Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles such as the Vega in the Czech Republic, and self-propelled howitzers including the CAESAR 8×8 and the Ukrainian 2S22 Bohdana. The chassis is also used in multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) like the Brazilian Astros II and the Czech RM-70 Vampire.

The Tatra 815-7 Force chassis is characterized by its central load-carrying tube and independent suspension, providing high torsional rigidity and improved off-road capabilities. Available in configurations from 4×4 to 12×12, it supports diverse operational requirements. Engines from Tatra, Cummins, or Deutz, along with various transmission options, enhance its adaptability. Features include all-wheel drive, optional additional armor, and a tire inflation system, designed to meet the demands of military operations.

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