A press release has been issued by the United States Army for the purchase of 96 Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) vehicles.
The MPF aspires to increase infantry brigades' survival, while allowing soldiers to see threats sooner and at a faster pace.
Defense News reports that the MPF is the first major platform that will go from prototyping to production under the United States Army Futures Command. The Army Futures Command (AFC) is charged with the important task of modernizing the United States Army, which is quite a challenge considering the evolving nature of warfare.
The AFC's selection of a light tank
The AFC adopted a competitive prototyping methodology for the selection of light tanks. The selection process began in 2018 with the shortlisting of candidates for this requirement. Over a period of four years, the US Army tested and evaluated 24 prototypes of these light tanks built by GDLS and BAE Systems, the other participant in the selection process.
The GDLS' prototype was equipped with a new-lightweight chassis and a high-performance power pack, as well as the latest version of the Abrams battle tanks' fire control system. BAE Systems supplied an upgraded version of the M8 Buford armored gun system with improvements in components and capabilities.
Both contractors were required to submit their prototypes to the82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where soldiers would review the vehicles and provide feedback on tactics, techniques, and procedures for utilizing the vehicles.
Due to the epidemic, BAE Systems' prototypes encountered delays in shipment. However, by August 2021, the soldiers had completed their assessment, following which the prototypes went through extensive user testing, which included live-fire systems. The AFC selected GDLS as the contract winner.
MPF is a new capability for the Army, allowing our light maneuver troops to outmatch adversaries. Through multiple Soldier touchpoints, our Soldiers have operated the prototypes and provided crucial feedback to the design team, ensuring our forces will have the equipment they need on the future battlefield, according to Maj. Gen. Ross Coffman, the director of the Next Generation Combat Vehicles Cross Functional Team.
What is included in the contract?
The $1.14 billion contract is for the initial low-rate manufacturing of these automobiles, under which GDLS will deliver 26 vehicles, and the Army will be able to procure 70 more vehicles during the contract period.
According to Defense News, at least eight of the 12 prototypes fielded by GDLS during the evaluation process will be retrofitted and fielded. The first production vehicles are expected to be delivered within 19 months, while a battalion worth of MPFs will be delivered by the fourth of 2025.
The Army intends to spend $6 billion on the MPF program, which includes money already spent on research and development and prototyping. The entire program's lifecycle cost is reportedly $17 billion, including sustainment, military construction, and personnel. By 2035, the Army intends to acquire 504 MPFs, which are anticipated to be in stock for 30 years.