Future US Army combat vehicles overview
Maj.Gen. David Bassett PEO Ground Combat Systems and his team of Program Managers held a panel discussion at AUSA 2017 offering updates on US Army combat vehicles. Maj.Gen. Bassett lead off reflecting that his team had successfully executed a range of efforts that had advanced the Army’s battlefield capabilities in the past year. These included the STRYKER 30mm up-gunning and latest A1 improvements, the M1A2v3 upgrades, Armoured Multi-purpose Vehicle (AMPV) and M109A7 PALADIN all of which were on schedule.
In addition, this coming year would see the launch of a number of initiatives representing the realisation of the Army Chief of Staff’s, Gen. Milley, push to enhance readiness through a more responsive and rapid acquisition process. The upcoming release in November of the Request for Proposal for the Mobile Protected Firepower system reflects this and could be a model for addressing other requirements.
The General stressed, however, that even given the desire to accelerate fielding every equipment effort must proceed in some manner through a process of design, development, test, fielding, and sustainment. This imposes restraints on how quickly a programme can realistically proceed. Although it may be possible to compress some of these, for example reducing Army development time by levering maturity in non-development systems, they cannot be skipped. It is also important to recognise that new capabilities are driven by the available technology, its maturity, time to implement it and the performance requirements sought. He suggested careful consideration of the last offers the most immediate possible benefits.
Each PM also offered an update on select programmes:
- M1A2v3 ABRAMS MBT has in place a requirements contract covering up to 500 systems. First production vehicles are scheduled for delivery in 2020.
- BRADLEY IFV will see M2A4 production in 2018. Other improvements are focussed on lethality with a next generation thermal sight as the vehicle has become weight challenged.
- The M109A7 is in low rate production with mobility improvements that will allow it to keep up with the armoured combat teams, as well as, to allow the next set of improvements focused on the turret and gun. On the later a longer 58 calibre 155mm gun with a 70 km range is the centre piece.
- Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) system will require proposals in April 2018 which will include bid sample which will be used to validate claimed capability and maturity of systems proposed. Intent is to award contracts in early Fiscal Year 2019.
- STRYKER is a moving on multiple fronts. The Double Vee Hull (DVH) A1 has been delivered which includes more power, improved suspension, and architecture upgrades. The initial production 30mm equipped STRYKERs are preceding to the 2d Cavalry as are those with the PROTECTOR RWS with integrated JAVELIN ATGM.
- An evaluation of M113 Armoured Personnel Carrier upgrade possibilities will occur in 2018 to address requirements in Europe and Korea. This “Rodeo” is expected to evaluate 2-3 candidates.
Stephen W. Miller