Thursday, May 13, 2021

U.S. Army to begin testing light tank prototypes

The U.S. Army has announced that a new light tank for the U.S. infantry hits the next phase of evaluation, following initial tests in March and April of this year.

According to a statement issued on Friday by Ashley John, the first of several pre-production Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) ground combat platforms are being delivered to Fort Bragg, N.C. to be used in the Soldier Vehicle Assessment (SVA).

The prototype Mobile Protected Firepower vehicles arriving through the Army’s Rapid Prototyping deal with BAE Systems and General Dynamics Land Systems. Each vendor will deliver 12 prototype vehicles for testing and development.

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“Soldiers of the 82nd Airborne will soon get the chance to do something no U.S. infantry Soldier has done in 26 years – employ a dedicated mobile, direct fire vehicle platform against hardened positions, dismounted personnel and light armored vehicles,” the Army announced in a Dec. 11 statement.

“We are incredibly excited to see the MPF platform entering into this phase,” said Brig. Gen. Glenn Dean, the program executive officer for Ground Combat Systems.

“MPF represents an innovative and aggressive approach to system acquisition. The beginning of our SVA in January illustrates how hard the teams are working to keep the major events of this program on schedule,” he also added.

Currently the Army’s Infantry Brigade Combat Teams (IBCT) do not have a combat vehicle assigned that is capable of providing mobile, protected, direct, offensive fire capability. To fill that capability gap the Army is using an innovative and competitive Acquisition approach to provide IBCTs with their own organic lethality platforms to ensure overmatch against peer and near peer threat.

The MPF solution is an integration of existing mature technologies and components that avoids development which would lengthen the program schedule. The priority has always been to field this new critical capability soonest, but the MPF will also be capable of accommodating additional weight and spare electrical power to support future growth.

The SVA is on track to commence on Jan. 4, 2021. It will be conducted at Fort Bragg and will run through June 2021. During that time, Soldiers will use the MPF prototypes to conduct a wide variety of operational scenarios. The SVA is an operational assessment rather than a formal test event, and it will directly inform the development of tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP) of this new capability for the IBCT.

“The MPF brings a new level of lethality to our infantry forces. The SVA gives us the first opportunity to put these vehicles in the hands of our Soldiers with the 82nd Airborne and begin to develop the methods by which our forces can best employ MPF,” said Brig. Gen. Ross Coffman, the Army’s director for the Next Generation Combat Vehicles Cross Functional Team. “Once they are able to begin interacting with these prototypes, I know that our Soldiers are going to come up with the best ways to utilize MPF in our light formations.”

The competitive phase of the program is scheduled to conclude with the selection of a single materiel solution and transition into production near the end of fiscal year 2022.

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About this Author

Dylan Malyasov
U.S. defense journalist and commentator. Aviation photographer. Dylan leads Defence Blog's coverage of global military news, focusing on engineering and technology across the U.S. defense industry.

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