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Mobile Protected Firepower

BAE BAE Hagglunds CV90120-T
General Dynamics Land Systems [GDLS] Griffin I
SAIC New Combat Vehicle
On 03 March 2022 Janes reported the Army had eliminated BAE Systems from the competition to build the Army's new light tank, leaving General Dynamics as the only bidder. The program, estimate at $3B-$4B, could be a key new pickup for GD. The total MPF quantity is 504 vehicles at the brigade level and below. The Army announced 28 June 2022 the award of a $1.14 billion contract to General Dynamics Land Systems, Sterling Heights, Michigan, for the production and fielding of up to 96 Mobile Protected Firepower vehicles. The award comes just days after the Army closed out the MPF middle-tier-acquisition rapid-prototyping phase and transitioned to a major capability acquisition program with a favorable Milestone C decision - an incremental step in the Department of Defense's acquisition process that moves into the production and deployment phase.

The GDLS Mobile Protected Firepower, is a light tank which uses a derivative of the Abrams turret mounted on the chassis of the British Scout SV program (now called Ajax), with only six road wheels. The Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) vehicle is a new combat vehicle required to address the capability gap identified within the Armys Infantry Brigade Combat Teams (IBCTs). This vehicle would be incorporated in the IBCT structure as a weapon system solution to provide a protected, long range, cyber resilient, precision, direct fire capability for early/forcible entry operations. The MPF vehicle would be a new system within the IBCT designed to support the full range of military actions, and would operate in concert with the Ground Mobility Vehicle (GMV) and Light Reconnaissance Vehicle (LRV) within the IBCT.

Since its inception, the MPF program has represented an innovative approach to Army acquisition by focusing on delivering an essential new capability to the IBCTs while under a significantly reduced timeline, as compared to traditional acquisition efforts. This was achieved by leveraging existing material solutions with proven capabilities coupled with new technologies to meet the requirements. This approach allows the program to enter at Milestone B, and alleviate a 2-3 year Technical Development phase.

The Mobile Protected Firepower [MPF] is not the Next Generation Combat Vehicle, which may eventually replace the Abrams tank and Bradley. The MPF would fill a persistent capability gap left when the M551 Sheridan Armored Reconnaissance/Airborne Assault Vehicle was retired from regular service in 1996. That vehicle served as a light tank accompanying infantry formations and after being pulled from the regular inventory, it was used for many years at the National Training Center as an opposing force, or OPFOR, armored vehicle. About the same time that the M551 was retired, the Army was developing an M-8 Armored Gun System to replace it. The AGS was eventually cancelled to free up funding for other programs.

The M551 Sheridan was the last light tank operated by the US military. The combat vehicle modernization strategy is intended to enable the Army to avoid the mistakes of the doomed Ground Combat Vehicle, canceled in 2010 after the requirements got out of control and the vehicle was deemed unaffordable. The Army projected the future in terms of near-, mid- and far-term periods, near-term being now until about 2021, mid-term from 2022 to 2031, and 2031 and beyond is considered far-term.

While the infantry and Stryker BCTs provide the Armys greatest expeditionary potential and operational mobility respectively, both lack direct fire capability that allows these formations to gain overmatch when facing capable enemies in close combat. The Army must improve infantry and Stryker BCTs maneuver capabilities by adopting an interim MPF capability, while developing an objective MPF solution. The Army fulfills the interim requirement by modifying an existing combat vehicle or purchasing an off the shelf solution in modest quantities.

A key project for the US Army is to adopt a Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) vehicle to provide infantry units with enhanced firepower against opposing infantry, fortifications and lightly armored vehicles. The Army particularly needs the as-yet nonexistent Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) vehicle to support infantry brigade combat teams--a lightweight vehicle that can be airlifted into battle and maneuver, dispersed if necessary, in close-quarters urban terrain, but with lethal long-range firepower to take out enemy armored vehicles. The idea is to defeat enemy positions and destroy their light armored vehicles pre-emptively to provide US forces with greater freedom of movement. MPF is now the Army's highest mid-term priority in combat vehicle modernization.

Mobile Protected Firepower [MPF] would be a lightweight combat vehicle that provides the IBCT long range, precision direct fire capability that ensures freedom of movement and action during joint expeditionary maneuver and joint combined arms operations. Mobile Protected Firepower would provide protected, long-range, direct fire capabilities to the Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) to defeat enemy prepared positions, destroy enemy armored vehicles, close with the enemy through fire and maneuver, and ensure freedom of maneuver and action in close contact with the enemy.

A new suite of mobile protected firepower (MPF) vehicles is also being conceptualized. The MPF is meant to fill the need among infantry brigade combat teams for something like a light tank. The Abrams is too heavy to be air dropped and, once it's on the ground, it can't maneuver in constricted areas like narrow mountain roads or alleyways.

For instance, a maximum weight of 32 tons was one requirement, which would allow it to be air dropped. Also among the requirements: the cannon must be capable of destroying a minimum number of targets and must provide a certain level of protection. The cannon could be 57-millimeter, 105-millimeter or 120-millimeter -- a cost-saving measure; those cannons were already in the Army's inventory.

Building upon the already improved capabilities of the XM813 30mm medium caliber cannon, the advanced lethality and accuracy for medium caliber program develops a cannon that fires the family of 50mm Supershot ammunition using the Automated Ammunition Handling System (AAHS) and a scenario-based fire control system to assist US overmatch of current and future threats. The future 50mm enhanced Bushmaster III cannon loaded with the precision airburst munition and scenario-based fire control system would provide an increase in lethality over the 30mm Mk310 precision airburst munition.

Like a tank, the new vehicle should be tracked so that it can scale over rubble from destroyed buildings and other obstructions like burned-out cars. Of course, the MPF vehicle would need certain levels of mobility, protection and firepower, he said, but the advantages of the tradeoffs between such capabilities must be considered. For example, a light vehicle that offers greater mobility would also have less protection and firepower than an Abrams. The MPF suite of vehicles would include ground mobility vehicles, light reconnaissance vehicles as well as the medium caliber tracked vehicle.

According to the Army's requirements, the main gun has to be stabilized for on-the-move firing, while the optics and fire control system should support operations at all weather conditions including night operations. The new vehicle is required to be air-transportable via a C-17, although transportability with a C-130 is desired. The MPF vehicle should be capable of being low-velocity air-dropped from said aircrafts with initial combat capability (main gun and coaxial armament ready without any need for the installation or adaption of the equipment). The MPF vehicle has to be able to operate 24 hours in IBCTs (infantry brigade combat teams) without refueling. Protection has to be provided against small arms fire and artillery fragments with the option to install additional armor kits, including an underbelly plate against mines and IEDs.

"We're going to need a totally new combat vehicle, and we don't even know what it looks like," Lt. Col. Andy Sanchez, chief of ARCIC's Maneuver, Aviation and Soldier Division said 09 February 2017. "There's a huge effort to begin to look at offensive capabilities that can attack an enemy even before, ideally, the first kinetic or lethal munition has been fired. Ideally, you render an enemy at least degraded, making him fight degraded, before he's even put boots on the ground. And when you can get into an adversary's decision cycle with those types of capabilities, it makes them think differently about certain courses of action."

Five to 10 years ago, "industry was pretty much nonproactive" in building new platforms, Peck said, "almost a slave to waiting for that RFI [request for information], RFP [request for proposals], sources-sought kind of announcement." By contrast, in 2013, the Army started asking industry what it could do about MPF.

"We started talking about the potential for using old and new vehicles, what was in the possible range," said Jim Miller, director of business development at BAE Systems. "It's been several years of talking. A lot of the up-front discussions have proven to be very beneficial," including those with ARCIC and the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center.

ARCIC disseminated its draft MPF requirements document to industry and held an MPF industry day in early August 2016 at Fort Benning, Georgia, that was hosted by the U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence. The resulting discussions have included the timeline and costs for developing MPF. "The process has been pretty successful so far," said Miller, who noted that major corporate investments were riding on certain key decisions the Army makes up front on a combat vehicle, including its size, weight, survivability, crew size and the kind of aircraft that would transport it.

A big problem in requirements development of the past has been late-breaking decisions or revisions of key performance parameters. The process of developing requirements needs to settle these major decisions up front. And then get to the smaller things that the Army wants, all the way to the widgets.

The lines of communication between ARCIC and industry on what the Army wants in the MPF have been open enough that GDLS was able to put together a technology demonstrator in five months for the Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting & Exposition in October 2016 in Washington. It wasn't just "come up with a solution [and] hope for the best," as in past years, Peck said.

In August 2016, when industry representatives were invited to the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, Georgia, the technical requirements for the MPF were purposely kept to a minimum. The Army plans to conduct the Mobile Protected Firepower Analysis of Alternative in FY17 to assess the operational effectiveness, suitability and life-cycle cost of both developmental and non-development materiel solutions that satisfy requirements contained within the Initial Capabilities Document.

The MPF program skipped the normal two- or three-year technology development phase. A draft Request For Proposal, or RFP, went out at the end of September 2017 and feedback from potential MPF contractors was received wihtin a few weeks. The Army planned issued on 21 November 2017 the Request for Proposals for the Mobile Protected Firepower or MPF vehicle, and plans called for fielding the system under a rapid acquisition effort. March 2018 would be the deadline for MPF proposals and bid samples were to be delivered to test sites in April 2018. The Army would be expecting to see some "mature technologies" on the sample vehicles.

Up to two EMD contracts were targeted for award during the first quarter of FY19. Each contractor is required to deliver 12 preproduction vehicles in accordance with the Scope of Work and P-Spec. In addition, the contractor(s) shall deliver two Ballistic Hull and Turrets (BH&T), System Support Packages (SSP) and Special Tools and Test Equipment (STTE), Armor Coupons, and a Cyber Bench, if proposed with its design, during EMD. During the EMD phase, the vehicle shall be developed, designed, and tested within the affordability constraints, and the vehicles would be used to support Pre-Production Testing, and a Soldier Vehicle Assessment (SVA) used to measure prototype effectiveness and provide feedback. Pre-production vehicles shall be transferred to the Government through use of a DD Form 1149, Requisition and Invoice/Shipping Document. The MPF program includes a comprehensive provisioning program to allow for crew and field-level organic Army support by First Unit Equipped in 2025.

The contractor shall manage its MPF design to ensure that the vehicles production costs meets the Governments UMC affordability target of $6.4 million per vehicle (expressed in base year 2018 constant dollars). This UMC target does not include any proposed Chemical Energy (CE) protection solutions for Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs), Anti-Tank Grenades (ATGs), Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGMs), and Artillery-Delivered High Precision Munitions (ADHPMs), unless such solutions were integrated into the vehicles base configuration. The first production year begins in fiscal year 2022 for 26 vehicles, followed by 28 vehicles in FY23, and th en 50 vehicles per year from FY24 through FY32 (for a total of 504 vehicles).

UMC is defined as the fully burdened costs of all material, labor, overhead, General and Administrative (G&A) expenses, fee/profit, and other direct and indirect expenses necessary for the production of vehicles. UMC also includes fully burdened costs of subcontractors, purchased parts and equipment, costs to integrate and assemble the various subassemblies into a working system, costs to install special and general equipment, costs to paint and package the system for shipment to its acceptance destination, and all transportation and travel costs needed to assemble the final system. Further, the UMC target does not include the cost to the Government to procure GFP necessary for manufacturing and assembly of vehicles.

The Government intends to award the option(s) on only one of the two EMD contracts. The contractors awarded EMD contracts would deliver prototype vehicles that would be evaluated in a subsequent competitive evaluation for their ability to meet MPF System requirements. The contractor whose system best meets the evaluation criteria would be awarded the LRIP option(s). Only one EMD contractor would be selected for LRIP. The LRIP options include a total of 54 vehicles (26 vehicles for Option 1 and 28 for Option 2) LRIP also includes the retrofit of 8 EMD vehicles, SSP, STTE, Logistics Products, and Government Test Support.

On 17 December 2018 BAE Systems Land & Armaments LP, Sterling Heights, Michigan, was awarded a $375,932,453 hybrid (firm-fixed-price and fixed-price-incentive) contract for Mobile Protected Firepower middle tier acquisition and rapid prototyping effort with low-rate initial production options. Bids were solicited via the internet with three received. Work will be performed in Sterling Heights, Michigan, with an estimated completion date of Oct. 15, 2025. Fiscal 2019 research, development, test and evaluation funds in the amount of $175,974,048 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Warren, Michigan, is the contracting activity (W56HZV-19-C-0035).

On 17 December 2018 General Dynamics Land Systems Inc., Sterling Heights, Michigan, was awarded a $335,043,086 hybrid (firm-fixed-price and fixed-price-incentive) contract for Mobile Protected Firepower middle tier acquisition and rapid prototyping effort with low-rate initial production options. Bids were solicited via the internet with three received. Work will be performed in Sterling Heights, Michigan, with an estimated completion date of Oct. 15, 2025. Fiscal 2018 and 2019 research, development, test and evaluation funds in the amount of $175,011,179 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Warren, Michigan, is the contracting activity (W56HZV-19-C-0036).

GDLS Mobile Protected Firepower [MPF] GDLS Mobile Protected Firepower [MPF] GDLS Mobile Protected Firepower [MPF] GDLS Mobile Protected Firepower [MPF] GDLS Mobile Protected Firepower [MPF]

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Page last modified: 15-07-2022 16:26:54 ZULU