Getting closer: the future of American light tanks has begun

WARSAW, (BM) – According to the US military, a formal “market research” has begun on the interest and possibility of a new light tank for the US military produced by interested companies in the US defense industry. Pentagon must purchase the vehicle under the Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) program, and testing of both competing prototypes are already underway.

Getting closer: the future of American light tanks has begun
Photo credit: Military Review

The production carries out by the Executive Service of the Ground Combat Systems Program (PEO GCS) and starts on February 12 this year. Its primary purpose is to collect written information about the industry to determine the current pre-production capacity of the target vehicles acquired through the MPF program. Also, they include declarations of the ability to provide engineering, logistical, and test support.

From February 4 this year, the first studies and tests of the two prototypes for the new American light tank began. Following the first phase of the MPF program in December 2018, the US Department of Defense selected two competitive bids contractors. General Dynamics Land Systems and BAE Systems, which had to prepare and deliver a batch of 12 prototypes and four hulls and towers for ballistic tests, also competed in this program.

There are still problems to solve

A problem that has recently arisen in connection with this program is the non-compliance with the above-described requirement to deliver a full batch of prototypes by one of the bidders. According to Jane’s, the full range of vehicles is supplied only by GDLS, while BAE Systems provides only two hulls for ballistic tests. The reasons for these delays are not known, but for this reason, the US Army can thoroughly test only one of the two proposed solutions. If the manufacturer does not rectify the defects, it will delay the program.

These tests are expected to occur in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and will be conducted by paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division over the next six months. This unit is divided into infantry brigade (IBCT) combat teams, which will eventually receive the said MPF vehicles. These tests and trials will choose the tank’s final design. Both structures had to undergo a series of factory tests before, starting in March 2020, including tests for mobility, firepower, and survival.

The new tank will increase combat effectiveness

According to accepted assumptions, the Mobile Protected Firepower program selects a new American light tank, which will eventually complement the fleet of light tactical vehicles Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV), successors to the popular HMMWV. It should act as a fire support vehicle in the American Infantry Brigade (IBCT) combat teams as part of an urgent operational necessity and ultimately as the Stryker Brigade (SBCT) combat teams.

The final winner, who can count on a lucrative long-term contract in the future, must be selected in the fall of 2022. The initial order must be 26 units, with an option for another 28 and the modernization of eight pre-created prototypes. In total, the US military plans to purchase a minimum of 504 light tanks, the first of which are to be delivered to the line service, starting in 2025.

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