How Does The Future Shape Up For Army Tactical Vehicles?
July 6 2010
The future of tactical vehicles remains unclear at the moment. In February, the US Army requested proposals for a new infantry fighting vehicle as it aims to find the next Humvee or MRAP.
This forms part of the technology development (TD) phase of the Ground Combat Vehicle programme (GCV), for which a sum of $645 million (£428.7 million) from this and next year's budget has been set aside. It is expected that this phase will span over seven years and include three stages.
In the initial phase, the Army will test and evaluate the critical technological elements, plus formalise a set of requirements for the tactical vehicles. Military leaders are planning to issue up to three contracts in the fourth quarter of the year and a preliminary design review will be conducted by 2013.
The next phase - engineering and manufacturing development - will see the screening out of one of the three TD contractors and by the end of 2014, the Army expects delivery of the first prototypes which will go through extensive safety, mobility and limited user tests.
By early 2016, the main contractor for the production and deployment phase will be selected and the manufacturing of the tactical vehicles is scheduled to take place seven years after the initial award of the TD contracts.
The GCV programme is part of a holistic plan to modernise the Army's fleet. This includes incorporating MRAPs into the convoy while modernising current tactical vehicles like the Stryker. The infantry fighting vehicle, the first GCV, will offer a highly survivable platform for delivering a nine-man squad to the battlefield. It will also be the first tank to have been designed from the ground up to operate in an improvised explosive device (IED) environment.
Military leaders also intend for the tactical vehicle to have greater lethality and ballistic protection than a Bradley and better IED and mine protection than an MRAP, plus the cross-country mobility of an Abrams tank.
They want it to be highly mobile and versatile but have not set specific requirements like weight. Instead, they are allowing the industry to propose the best solution to meet the specification.
The Army has already spoken to industry leaders through a series of dedicated events to give them an idea of how the GCV programme will work, get their feedback and gauge the potential for competition between companies looking to secure the tactical vehicles contract.
When Army Vice Chief of Staff General Peter Chiarelli first announced the plan to replace the M113 and Bradley with new armoured tactical vehicles in September, he said: "The GCV represents one of the most important combat development and acquisition decisions we are going to make in a long time.
"I can't tell you what the GCV will look like, but I will tell you that in the past 120 days, we have thought our way through how we are going to move forward," he added.
Joint Tactical Vehicles Venture
There are plenty of interested parties, with the likes of BAE Systems Land and Armaments, Advanced Defense Vehicle Systems, Boeing, General Dynamics Land Systems, Force Protection Industries, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman Information Systems and QinetiQ all having expressed a desire to be involved in the tactical vehicles programme.
In fact, BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman have announced that that they are joining forces to pursue the tactical vehicles programme. BAE will be the prime contractor in the partnership, while Northrop Grumman will serve as the lead in command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
"Collectively we bring the proven experience, the latest technology and cultures of innovation and service to the Army's effort to develop a new generation of fighting vehicles," said Mark Signorelli, BAE Systems' vice president and general manager of GCV.
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