Land Platforms

AUSA 2016: US Army's new tank programme takes shape

06 October 2016
GDLS' Griffin technology demonstrator vehicle was unveiled on 3 October. Source: IHS/Daniel Wasserbly

Key Points

  • An MPF vehicle would likely weigh less than or around 32 tonnes and be armed with a 105 mm or 120 mm cannon
  • The army hopes to avoid a lengthy development process and wants industry to do its own design work

The US Army is working to formulate specific requirements for a Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) platform that so far appears akin to a light or medium tank.

Army planners want to "speak definitively about requirements" and then have industry respond with design ideas before the programme begins, Major General David Bassett, programme executive officer for ground combat systems, told reporters on 4 October at the Association of the US Army (AUSA) annual conference. "We're not willing to wait for a lengthy bottom-up design process", he said.

The army would like to get more than one vendor for a competitive programme, but is not yet sure if there will be sufficient resources for that, Maj Gen Bassett added.

Colonel James Schirmer, programme manager for armoured fighting vehicles, said the service does not have a product specification for MPF, but is starting work on that soon.

BAE Systems' demonstrator vehicle for MPF, based on its M8 AGS, was shown for a second year at AUSA. (Daniel Wasserbly)BAE Systems' demonstrator vehicle for MPF, based on its M8 AGS, was shown for a second year at AUSA. (Daniel Wasserbly)

Still, he said it would likely have a 32-tonne maximum weight and address target sets that require at least a 50 mm cannon, although he added that the army does not want a new suite of ammunition so this likely leads to a 105 mm or 120 mm weapon. The army would be open to a tank capable of air drops, but 32 tonnes weight likely precludes that (although two could potentially fit in a C-17 Globemaster III transport).

The MPF must go where infantrymen go, so the army is interested in a smaller platform that could traverse bridges or narrow streets, but should be tracked so it can still roll through obstacles, Col Schirmer said.

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