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Thursday, 3 February 2011

Features of Future Army Combat Vehicle Revealed

Features of Future Army Combat Vehicle Revealed

by Greg Grant on February 5, 2010

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GCV notional

While we won't focus on vehicles per se here at Kit Up, there has been a vigorous discussion in the comments thread on the various merits and shortcomings of the Stryker wheeled vehicle and what might be needed in any future combat vehicles. So, I wanted to provide readers with a bit of information on the new Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV), the replacement program for the cancelled FCS manned ground vehicles (above is an artist's rendering of what the FCS infantry carrier might have looked like).

The Army plans to spend at least $7 billion over the next
five years developing the GCV, with $934 million slotted for work in 2011 and nearly $2
billion the next year. The Army wants
builders to begin work on the GCV’s subsystems and modular components, such as
the engine, drive train, suspension, armor, turret, weapons, active protection
system and what it calls a “Mission Module Structure” to carry an infantry
squad. Prototypes of the various subsystems are to be ready for testing in
early 2012.

To get the process moving, the Army plans to award two
competitive contracts in the fourth quarter FY2010. The Army expects builders
to use mostly mature technologies in an “evolutionary acquisition approach,” that
allows for the “maximum affordable competition” documents say. A subsystem
preliminary design review is scheduled for fourth quarter FY2011.

The Army believes a modular assembly approach will facilitate
adding technological upgrades, weapons, armor, automotive components and
communications networks, over time to the original GCV design. How far along
the various modular components are in development, their technological
“maturity,” will be key to determining which company gets the GCV contract.

Building a vehicle that can plug into the Army’s existing
and future digital communications, surveillance and sensor architecture to
provide soldiers “superior” situational awareness is a Key Performance
Parameter (KPP), the documents say. The vehicle itself will carry a variety of
sensors to provide video feeds to crew and the infantry squad. The Army is also
looking for a fuel efficient engine to power the GCV.

The GCV is to be equipped with a suite of non-lethal weapons
in addition to a turret mounted cannon (the documents don't specify what size cannon), documents say. Survivability against
IEDs and mines will factor huge in the vehicle’s design and the hull must
survive “Level 1 underbelly threats” and it must mitigate against “harmful
accelerations” to crew and passengers.

Nothing in the budget material about vehicle weight,
although there is a reference to “tracks” as a component part, so apparently it
will be a tracked infantry fighting vehicle.

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