New Infantry Fighting Vehicles Top Priority for Army, Secretary Says

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The senior U.S. Army official said Tuesday that the service’s next-generation combat vehicle program will first focus on fielding a replacement for the Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

Building a fleet of NGCVs to replace the M1 tank and the Bradley is the Army’s second modernization priority.

Over the past six months, Army leaders have emphasized that NGCVs will need to be manned and unmanned, but Army Secretary Mark Esper revealed that the service will focus first on the “new infantry fighting vehicle, which is the first new generation combat vehicle”. The vehicle will be.”

“That should provide us with a great capability with our armored formations,” Esper told an Atlantic Council audience.

This isn’t the first time the military has tried to replace the Cold War-era infantry fighting vehicle. Four years ago, the service ended its latest effort to replace the Bradley, known as the Ground Combat Vehicle program.

The Army launched the GCV program in 2009 shortly after the Pentagon canceled the service’s Future Combat Systems program – a multi-billion dollar modernization effort that included manned ground vehicles designed to replace the M1, the Bradley and other legacy combat vehicles.

The replacement of the Bradley then became the Army’s main modernization priority. The first prototype was designed to carry a squad of nine soldiers; it featured a hybrid drive motor for greater power and an active protection system designed to defeat enemy missiles. It was heavy, however, with a base weight of around 53 tons.

Ultimately, mandatory defense spending cuts in receivership forced the military to cancel the GCV program in 2014. Lawmakers cut GCV funding by $492 million in the fiscal year 2015 budget. decision left the Army with $100 million instead of the $592 million it had requested to continue developing the program.

Army officials, however, are determined to replace the Bradley. This time around, leaders have pledged to deliver the first manned and unmanned NGCV prototypes by 2019.

It will feature artificial intelligence to provide driver-assisted 360-degree situational awareness as well as computer-aided targeting and acquisition capabilities to help crew members make faster decisions in combat, said army officials.

The NGCV is one of the Army’s six modernization priorities, which also includes long-range sniper fire, Future Vertical Lift, a mobile network, air and missile defense, and soldier lethality.

“It’s an exciting time as the military faces many challenges,” Esper said. “It’s going to take a lot of leadership. It’s going to take tough decisions. It’s going to take perseverance from me and my management team.”

— Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

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