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Military Capabilities

US Army’s Mobile Protected Firepower tank to skip development phase

28 November 2017

The US Army officially kicked off Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) programme with a request for proposals (RFP), seeking to close a gap for a mobile, direct-fire capability in the Infantry Brigade Combat Teams (IBCTs) formations by providing a protected, long-range, precision, direct-fire capability.

The MPF was the top priority in the US Army’s 2015 Combat Vehicle Modernization Strategy, and its RFP was released on 21 November.BAE Systems' demonstrator vehicle for MPF, based on its M8 AGS, was shown in 2015 and 2016 at AUSA. (IHS Markit/Daniel Wasserbly)BAE Systems' demonstrator vehicle for MPF, based on its M8 AGS, was shown in 2015 and 2016 at AUSA. (IHS Markit/Daniel Wasserbly)

“I don’t want to say it’s a light tank, but it’s kind of like a light tank,” David Dopp, programme manager for MPF, told reporters on 10 October. He said it will have a 105 mm cannon and the army plans to fit two on a C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft, and that transport requirement has been one of the key design restrictions.

Major General David Bassett, programme executive officer for Ground Combat Systems, added that the platform will be tracked, weighs 25–35 tonnes, and has substantial armour protection, but not as much as a main battle tank. He said the MPF is not expected to have a C-17 airdrop capability because that requirement would cost the tank too much on the protection side.

Maj Gen Bassett said “by next spring”, or mid-2018, the army hopes to be testing bid samples, and could award initial engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) contract in early fiscal year 2019 (FY 2019) as soon as money is appropriated, assuming budget legislation is enacted early in the fiscal year; the last few fiscal years have not begun with new appropriations.

The army expects to receive industry’s prototypes within 14 months of the anticipated FY 2019 contract award, and have them under evaluation at least four months after that.

The army is indicating it will skip the development phase and intends to obtain commercially ready vehicle options. The RFP outlines a plan similar to the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, with two companies involved in the EMD phase and each contractor building 12 prototypes.

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