GD, BAE Systems, SAIC competing
During the AUSA 2017 in Washington DC, officials from the US Army – including Major General David Bassett, Program Executive Offer of Ground Combat Systems – briefed media representatives about current developments in major modernisation programmes. One of the projects presented in details was the Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF).
Previously that role was filled by the M551 Sheridan but it was retired in 1996 without any replacement. That particular gap has never been filled. MPF is expected to be a light fire support vehicle (sometimes described as a ‘light tank’) with most likely 105mm gun, able to accompany M1 ABRAMS tanks and other vehicles. A 120 mm gun is also not ruled out (it is a planned gun in the GRIFFIN medium-weight vehicle designed by General Dynamics Land Systems, which is a potential candidate for MPF).
It was confirmed by David Dopp, who leads US Army’s MPF Programme Office, the final version of the Request for Proposals (RfP) is planned for November 2017. So far a draft RfP has been prepared – up to two contractors will be asked to deliver 12 platforms for testing. It is planned that those vehicles will be based on currently existing solutions. US Army seeks a tracked platform with a weight between 25 and 35 tonnes.
Defence companies will be able to answer it before April 2018. US Army plans to award contracts in 12 months after proposals are submitted. First prototypes are planned to be ready in 15 months after a contract is signed. Six months later first unit is expected to get the first vehicles. It is planned that Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) will cover 26-28 vehicles. In total it is expected that 504 new vehicles will be procured.
It was also confirmed that the US Army is considering a minor modernization programme for the M113 APCs echelons above brigade. It will cover only vehicles deployed outside the United States.
Dr. Robert Czulda