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MILITARY TECHNOLOGY (MILTECH) is the world's leading international tri-service defence monthly magazine in the English language. MILITARY TECHNOLOGY is "Required Reading for Defence Professionals". Follow us on Twitter: MILTECH1

13 October 2015

AUSA 2015: BRADLEY Vehicle Derivatives, Upgrades and GMV/LRV/MPF

The US Army has revealed that its Future Fighting Vehicle (FFV) programme is being pushed back due to a lack of funding. An executive summary of the service's FY17-FY21 Program Objective Memorandum (POM) said a planned FY21 Milestone A for the FFV will now take place in FY29.
FFV is a follow-on to the defunct Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV), which was terminated in the FY15 budget. GCV was intended to replace a portion of the BRADLEY fleet.

In August 2014, BAE Systems and General Dynamics were awarded $7.0 million contracts to continue developing GCV technologies for potential incorporation into the FFV. These bridge contracts are part of an S&T effort aimed at capitalising on the original GCV investment. The companies were then awarded FFV development design contracts in May 2015 valued at $28.9 million for BAE Systems and $28.3 million for GD. Under the new contracts, the companies will conduct studies around three design concepts.

The Army called for ideas on BRADLEY vehicle derivatives, designs for a 40t vehicle optimized for air transport, and a 55t combat vehicle. The latter is the most similar to the original GCV concept, designs for which had grown to nearly 70 tons. Part of what drove the weight gain under GCV was a requirement to transport a nine-man squad, which appears to no longer be a driving requirement under FFV.

The concept analysis work will last through November 2016, and could help determine whether the Army develops a new vehicle or pursue another BRADLEY upgrade instead.

For now, the Army will shift funding to support more near-term priorities, such as the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV), PALADIN, and upgrades on ABRAMS, BRADLEY, and STRYKER, including an effort to install larger 30mm cannons on STRYKERs based in Europe; also supporting efforts to procure a new series of light vehicles ranging from a speedy unarmoured transport vehicle to a light tank.

The US Army has expressed continued support for a series of new light vehicles in the POM, indicating that the Army will continue funding for the Ground Mobility Vehicle (GMV - previously known as the Ultralight Combat Vehicle), the Light Reconnaissance Vehicle (LRV), and the Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) vehicle.

These vehicles are intended to provide the Army with a forcible entry capability for airborne infantry Brigade Combat Teams. All three are must be air droppable (GMV and LRV sling loadable via helicopter or internally loaded), allowing soldiers to parachute in, mount the vehicles, and move at high speed toward an objective. Unlike LRV, the GMV will not be standard issue for every brigade.
For GMV, the Army wants a vehicle that is light, quick, and nimble to carry a nine-man infantry squad at speeds of up to 55mi per hour on roads, and up to 17mi per hour off-road. The vehicles would have a range of 250-300 miles. GMV will favour speed over armour, weapons, or electronics. The purpose of the vehicle is to quickly bring squads to an objective, but it will not offer protection against enemy fire or other threats like roadside bombs.

The Army has already been testing a number of vehicles during the initial analysis phase, including Polaris Defense's MRZR 4 and GD's FLYER vehicle (the FLYER was already selected under Special Operations Command's own GMV programme).

LRV will accompany GMV on the battlefield. LRV will feature light armour capable of protecting its six-man crew against small arms fire and shrapnel, along with a mounted machine gun and surveillance gear. The vehicle will end up replacing a large number of slower HMMWVs serving as surveillance scouts. LRV could potentially be the same vehicle as GMV, but configured with different kits based on the mission.

Companies interested include, next to the one’s already mentioned: AM General, Boeing, Vyper Adamas, Oshkosh, and Navistar.

MPF is envisioned as a light tank to provide support to the GMV and LRV fleets. The tank, paling in comparison to the much larger M1 ABRAMS, would be used to take out targets such as entrenched infantry or light armoured vehicles. Threats such as heavy armoured vehicles would be left to the ABRAMS. The MPF vehicle is still a concept in its infancy, and is not expected to appear on the battlefield until the mid-2020s if the programme moves forward.

For more information please see MILITARY TECHNOLOGY #10/2015, available at the show at the German pavillion on booth 2115; and frequently check back for more NEWS FROM THE FLOOR.