The U.S Army Has Big Plans for New Mobile Protected Firepower Vehicles

 In Land, EPC, Forces & Capabilities

More Prototype Mobile Protected Firepower vehi­cles will soon be arriv­ing through the Army’s Rapid Prototyping deal with BAE Systems and General Dynamics Land Systems. Each vendor will deliv­er twelve pro­to­type vehi­cles for test­ing and devel­op­ment, a key step toward a 2022 “down-select” to one vendor and the even­tu­al con­struc­tion of 504 vehicles.

General Dynamics Land Systems is deliv­er­ing pre-pro­duc­tion MPF vehi­cles to meet the Army’s test and field­ing sched­ule and is look­ing for­ward to them being select­ed for field­ing to the Army.

“Our can­di­date fea­tures a large-cal­iber cannon and employs a combat-proven fire con­trol system. Its ultra-modern diesel engine provides a high power-to-weight ratio with extend­ed tac­ti­cal range. The hydraulic pneu­mat­ic sus­pen­sion allows for superb cross-coun­try mobil­i­ty,” a General Dynamics Land Systems report states.

The Army is plan­ning an upcom­ing series of “sol­dier vehi­cle” assess­ments intend­ed to test the oper­a­tional effec­tive­ness, weapons capa­bil­i­ties and combat attrib­ut­es of each vehi­cle. Army leaders also say the assess­ments include con­duct­ing “live-fire” attacks on the pro­to­types to assess each’s abil­i­ty to with­stand var­i­ous kinds of antic­i­pat­ed enemy fire.

The test attacks on pro­to­types will include RPGs, crew-served weapons, small arms fire and var­i­ous kinds of cannons and land-rock­ets. These exper­i­ments are intend­ed to fully and accu­rate­ly repli­cate combat as part of sol­dier “lethal­i­ty tests” of its new MPF plat­form, senior Army weapons devel­op­ers have described. Part of these assessments include move-to-con­tact mis­sions, assault exer­cis­es, medium-range fire on static and moving tar­gets — and mobil­i­ty tests across rig­or­ous, uneven ter­rain. Army devel­op­ers will also look at expand­ing the anticipated mission require­ments for the MPF, to include counter-air attacks on enemy drones and heli­copters, Army devel­op­ers say.

The MPF is being accel­er­at­ed to war, in part to meet a press­ing need for mobile fire­pow­er to support rapidly advanc­ing light infantry. Army assess­ments found that Infantry Brigade Combat Teams (IBCTs) lack the maneu­ver­able fire­pow­er needed to destroy fortified enemy positions, bunkers, light armored vehi­cles and heavy machine gun posi­tions.

Lighter, air-droppable vehicles are able to attack through a wider range of meth­ods but are not well-suited enough for the combat mis­sions expect­ed for the MPF, ser­vice devel­op­ers explained. Army pro­gram man­agers explain the vehi­cle as a plat­form that must “be able to with­stand a cer­tain thresh­old of enemy fire.”

At the same time, rapid deployability and speed of maneu­ver are not, accord­ing to many U.S. weapons devel­op­ers, at odds with high levels of sur­viv­abil­i­ty. Scalable armor, long-range sensors, Active Protection Systems and pre­ci­sion, heavy-weight fire­pow­er are all fac­tors aimed at reconciling what might appear to be a con­tra­dic­tion. In fact, a Modern War Institute paper, titled Light, Mobile and Many: Rethinking the Future of Armor, sug­gests that, given the advent of these new tech­nolo­gies, lighter-weight combat vehi­cles with less armor might become even more impor­tant.

Kris Osborn is defense editor for the National Interest. Osborn pre­vi­ous­ly served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army — Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air mil­i­tary spe­cial­ist at nation­al TV net­works. He has appeared as a guest mil­i­tary expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

Image: Wikipedia.

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