The estimated $8.4 billion MRAP program for 7,774 mine-resistant vehicles has seen almost 63% of its orders issued, with new orders emerging as vehicles complete testing and production capacity opens up. Force Protection of Ladson, SC was a recent beneficiary of an “additional production” order, and they currently lead the MRAP competition with 36.5% of vehicles ordered. Beyond MRAP, however, the US Army may be looking for another 17,000 vehicles – and whatever replaces the 1980s-era flat-bottomed Hummers will also need an acceptable level of mine protection.
The AN/PVS-17 is a lightweight night vision device that uses the OMNI IV MX 10160 3rd generation image intensifier tube. The system weighs less than 2 pounds, can be submerged to 20 meters/ 66 feet, and is compatible with rail mountings. The AN/PVS-17B incorporates a 2.25x magnification and the 17C incorporates a 4.5x magnification – or, as the USMC training handouts put it: “The Mini-Night Sight provides high performance, quick man-sized target acquisition and aiming capabilities during night operations from close range to 300 meters (AN/PVS-17B) or 500 meters (AN/PVS-17C).” In general, the 17B is intended to be mounted on rifles like the M16/M4, and the AN-PVS-17C [Data sheet, PDF] is mounted on support weapons like 5.56mm M249 Squad Automatic Weapons (SAW) and 7.62mm M240B/G General Purpose Machine Guns.
The USA’s M1 Abrams tank fleet was fielded in the 1980s, and has undergone a number of modifications and improvements over the subsequent decades. It’s a high-performance, high-maintenance tank – and any vehicle that’s used accumulates wear. Meanwhile, the tides of innovation and technology roll on, and electronic parts in particular may not be available for order 15 years after the tanks were produced. When these realities are coupled with lessons learned about the wear patterns and performance of various components over the years, it becomes possible to gradually architect improvements to the fleet by substituting new components and/or assemblies.
Enter the Abrams systems support contracts. They fund engineering studies on Abrams tanks to identify improvements for the fleet, and replace obsolete parts in order to maintain the USA’s tanks at high operational readiness rates. The contracts have come in a small but steady stream – this article covers all FY 2007 contracts, and future contracts going forward, in order to throw a bit of a spotlight on this effort.
The US Army’s $120+ billion Future Combat Systems program has been subject to a great deal of criticism over its history. It was always planned as a development process with staged spinoffs, but a combination of pressure on the program and the field needs of the troops on the front lines is pushing that schedule. As FCS hits the 2 1/2 year mark in its System Design and Development (SDD) phase, there are plans to start delivering some of its elements beginning in 2006, for fielding and then upgrading as the program continues.
According to eDefense Online, the spinouts will occur progressively but can be broadly grouped into four main waves for timing purposes: