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Army GCV Program Explores Existing Combat Platforms

In parallel with the ongoing technology development (TD) efforts for the U.S. Army’s GCV program, service representatives are preparing to conduct an operational assessment on a handful of “off the shelf” combat systems to obtain data for an expanded analysis of alternatives (AoA) process.

The vehicles slated for the upcoming operational assessment include:

  • Stryker with Double-V Hull;
  • Bradley with turret;
  • Modified Bradley with raised hull and turret removed/replaced by Kongsberg Remote Weapon Station;
  • Swedish CV-90, and;
  • Israeli Namer armored infantry fighting vehicle.

In an Aug.19, 2011 press briefing, U.S. Army GCV Program Manager Col. Andrew DiMarco outlined the “revised” GCV acquisition strategy based on an acquisition decision memorandum (ADM) signed two days earlier by Dr. Ashton Carter, then undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics.

Swedish CV90 40C

A soldier with the Swedish Army leads a CV-90-40C infantry fighting vehicle out of a simulated forward deployed location during the Bold Quest Exercise at the National Training Center at Ft. Irwin, Calif., om 2007. The CV-90 is among the vehicles slated for operational testing during an analysis of alternatives in the Ground Combat Vehicle program. U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt Samuel Rogers

Noting that the ADM had “changed, a little bit, the dynamics of the program,” DiMarco said that the new guidance directed “a three-pronged effort, and I use that verbatim out of the ADM, to look not only at the competitive development that we are doing now with BAE [Systems] and GDLS but also to continue forward, from an analytical perspective, examining our requirements and making sure that that requirement set, as we move from TD to EMD [engineering and manufacturing development] and beyond is, frankly, affordable and achievable. So we are focused on cost and focused on schedule and nothing has changed there as far as I’m concerned.”

He continued, “In addition to that additional analysis, Dr. Carter has asked us to look at and examine, in a little bit more fidelity, existing systems, to determine both from a technical perspective and operational perspective if they do pose any options for us as we move forward through the TD phase.”

DiMarco noted that the three phase approach was “all to better inform us in terms of options, as we move forward, that can better support the affordability goals that we established and certainly the schedule targets that we established at this point in time.”

Emphasizing that an AoA process had already been undertaken as part of earlier GCV milestones, he added, “When we looked at the AoA we weren’t finding ‘a’ [single] vehicle that had a combination of capabilities that we were looking for. Certainly…there are some vehicles that are optimized, let’s say for an underbelly threat; some vehicles that may be optimized for great cross country mobility or speed on highways; some vehicles optimized for direct large caliber threats. So I think when you look at it from that perspective we are trying to balance on this [GCV] vehicle and optimize across a number of areas so that we can have a more balanced vehicle for our infantry squads, that will give them not only the kinds of protection – given the kind of threats that I talked about earlier – but also the mobility – in particular the off road mobility so they can get off the roads and predictable routes; the kind of lethality that we need to deal with future threats; as well as frankly being able to carry that nine soldier squad and deliver that squad as a unit to a point on the battlefield where they can affect success on whatever objective and within whatever mission they are working.”

DiMarco acknowledged that the original exploration had included both U.S. and foreign systems like Bradleys, MRAPs and Puma. “Like I said, every vehicle has some benefits and, in some areas, they all lacked the kind of performance that we were looking for. And that was all taken into account as we execute our analysis of alternatives,” he said.

The five vehicles slated for the upcoming operational assessment are currently at Fort Bliss, Texas. Current plans call for movement of the vehicles to White Sands Missile Range on May 16, with the assessment running approximately May 17-24.

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Scott Gourley is a former U.S. Army officer and the author of more than 1,500...