U.S. Army revives next-generation Ground Combat Vehicle program

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Friday, December 3, 2010

Artist's depiction of GCV infantry fighting vehicle variant

On Tuesday the U.S. Army released its revised solicitation for the Ground Combat Vehicle infantry fighting vehicle three months after scrapping its previous plans.

The United States Army retracted its first solicitation for the Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) on 25 August. It was decided by the army to begin anew after a "red team" recommended that the army either upgrade the existing ground vehicle fleet or rewrite the requirements. Program officials choose to end evaluations of vehicle submissions and to begin again in two months with new requirements.

The previous design requirements emphasized modularity, affordability, rapid design and low risk technology. The infantry fighting vehicle variant would have carried a crew of three and nine infantry dismounts. It was initially to be compatible with the current Battle Command Control and Communications Suite but would gradually use a more revolutionary network. The system would support networking between external systems, vehicles and soldiers. It was to be transportable by C-17 cargo aircraft, rail, and ship and be as logistically deployable as the Stryker. The army officials were open to tracked or wheeled submissions but suggested that it be tracked due to the weight stemming from the requirements. The vehicle had an off-road speed requirement of 30 mph (50 km/h) and was required to deliver improved maintainability and consume less fuel than the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. The army wanted the vehicle to leverage an autocannon, a anti-tank guided missile system and non-lethal weapons. The army wanted the vehicle to have the blast protection level equal to the MRAP and supplement armor with active protection systems.

The army wanted the first vehicle variant to be a troop carrier that would displace the aging M113 APCs and M2 Bradleys. Later, other variants of the GCV would appear.

There were four known competing contractors for the Ground Combat Vehicle contract. BAE Systems led a team consisting of Northrop Grumman, QinetiQ, and Saft Group. BAE offered a tracked vehicle with a hybrid-electric engine, a baseline weight of 53 tons and a maximum weight tolerance of 75 tons for modular armor and various countermeasures including a V-hull and active protection systems. General Dynamics led a team consisting of Lockheed Martin, Detroit Diesel, and Raytheon. General Dynamics offered a vehicle using diesel and leveraging an active protection system. SAIC led a consortium called Team Full Spectrum which included Boeing, Krauss-Maffei, and Rheinmetall. SAIC offered a vehicle based on the Puma. Advanced Defense Vehicle Systems (ADVS) submitted its proposal for a wheeled vehicle but was rejected for being non-compliant.

The predecessor to the GCV, the Manned Ground Vehicle family, was canceled in April 2009. Similar programs like the M8 light tank and XM2001 Crusader have also been scrapped in the past. The Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, and Ground Combat Vehicle programs have been targeted for cancellation by the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.


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