Wednesday, August 12, 2009

U.S. Army Drafts Some Specs for New Vehicles

See the article below.

Funny, but General Vane argued just months ago how the MGV was definitely the answer to the 'lessons learned in Afghanistan' requirement (see his quote below in last February's Defense News). Now it's the son-of-FCS. Setting aside the inaccuracy of his claims about American armor and its value in AFPAK, it is both comical and sad to see how Chameleon-like this general is. There is obviously not the slightest bit of actual conviction behind his words, only whatever script he's handed. Whenever the wind changes direction so do the generals and that’s the real problem from acquisition to AFPAK. Doug

Michael A. Vane from February 2009 in Defense News: "Q. How is the Army adapting to the challenges of Afghanistan? A. One of the things that is not talked about very much is that we need to be an expeditionary force. When you think about going into Afghanistan with small units separated from their higher headquarters over a country much larger than Iraq, you ask how are you going to bring the network into small units? How are you going to get coms into small units? What the MGV [Manned-Ground Vehicle] brings is the network embedded in the platform. Instead of having to bring a whole bunch of stuff with you when you go to Afghanistan or someplace else, now you have the network embedded into the platforms, so you are bringing the infrastructure with you. Now, you can share a common picture from enclave to enclave. If you get away from the forward operating base in some of your heavier vehicles in Afghanistan, you are going to have a hard time operating. You will find that with MRAPs [Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles]. MGV brings you that tractability. The MGV is a lighter vehicle that can operate off-road. Right now, tanks, Bradleys and Paladins can't get there."

full article:

Defense News
August 10, 2009

U.S. Army Drafts Some Specs for New Vehicles


The U.S. Army’s next armored vehicles may have V-hulls and tracks, and should definitely be better protected than the canceled Future Combat Systems (FCS) vehicles, according to a draft paper that will shape the formal requirements for the Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV).

The service plans to buy hundreds of GCVs over the next 10 to 20 years for use throughout the force. The first models are slated to be ready within five to seven years.

The paper, which details lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan, codifies the decade long shift away from a vehicle mix focused on all-out war, said Lt. Gen. Michael Vane, director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center, part of Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Monroe, Va. “We need to look closer at the lessons of close-quarter combat and IEDs — the ability to attack our vehicles horizontally and from the top,” Vane said. Unlike the FCS vehicles, the new GCVs will likely not share a common chassis.

“There is a set of attributes that we want the ground combat vehicles to have,” Vane said. “Depending on the role or function, it may have a greater set or lesser set of that attribute. Rather than [sharing the] same chassis, they may need different levels of force protection lethality; some may need a different set of sensors.” The paper is the work of Fort Monroe-based Task Force 120, which was established to draft new vehicle requirements after FCS was canceled earlier this year. The group drew on input from soldiers, Marines, program engineers and key allies such as Britain, Germany and other NATO countries.

It will be presented to Gen. George Casey, the U.S. Army chief of staff, the week of August 10, along with related papers.

The requirements are slated to be finished by September 7, and then to go for approval to Army and Pentagon decision-makers before Army developers begin sketching vehicle designs. The papers indicate that the new vehicles will likely:

■ Be heavier than the 27-ton FCS Manned Ground Vehicles, with more traditional armor.

■ Not have a common chassis.

■ Be built to carry more nonlethal weapons.

■ Accept new networking gear and armor as it arrives.

The GCV might have a V-shaped hull, even if it rolls on tracks.

“We have to be concerned about deployability, transportability and reliability. All of those will become important factors in determining whether they should be a V-shaped vehicle,” Vane said. “V-shaped hulls and flat-bottom hulls can achieve the level of protection desired, but there are a lot of other variables such as the weight of the vehicle, the wheel wells and final drives in the case of a tracked vehicle.”

Heavy Weapons

Army officials also are thinking about putting on the GCVs offensive weapons that once would have been reserved for heavier vehicles. Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles (MRAPs) and more mobile 12-ton vehicles have created new possibilities, and one of the canceled 20-ton FCS vehicles was to carry a 120mm gun of the sort carried only on 50-ton Abrams tanks.

“We’ve seen some tremendous advances ... wheeled vehicles that can be more mobile than they were five or six years ago with a lot of weight,” Vane said.

The Army may configure more MRAPs as ambulances and command-and-control vehicles, allowing commanders to tailor forces to specific missions, Vane said.

One analyst said the Army is working hard to keep the money once slated for FCS secure for the new program. It totals $100 million for 2010, as a starting point.

“A lot of that shows after what they went through with FCS, they are open to anything right now,” said Dean Lockwood, a policy analyst with Forecast International, a Connecticut-based think tank. “They don’t want to make the same mistakes they made with FCS. They will do this incrementally and move through the next generation one thing at a time, because trying to do it all or nothing at once fell flat on its face.

“They will try to phase in new technologies as they become available,” he said. “That way, they are not overshooting in terms of technologies and budgets.” Lockwood said the Army may seek to emulate the rapid development approach of the MRAP. “They may be thinking in terms of a quick turnaround program.” he said. “They went from proposal to con tract in a matter of weeks - — rather than years, the way it used to be.”

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