The USA’s GCV Infantry Fighting Vehicle: 3rd time the charm?
April 29/13: APS. Defense Update reports that BAE’s GCV team has successfully tested Artis’ downward-firing Iron Curtain active protection system (APS), defeating all threats fired against the substitute M-ATV wheeled vehicle. Iron Curtain coiples their high-speed processor to an optical sensor, downward-firing “bars” arranged around the vehicle’s perimeter, and a DARPA-developed radar by Mustang Technology Group in Plano, TX. Firing its projectiles downward makes the system safer for accompanying troops.
Technically, the GCV doesn’t require an APS. In practice, The US Congressional Research Service correctly points out that the level of protection sought almost certainly makes one necessary.
The US Army’s Heavy Brigade Combat Teams have relied on BAE’s 30+ ton Bradley family of M2/3/6/7 vehicles for a variety of combat functions, from armed infantry carrier and cavalry scout roles, to specialized tasks like calling artillery fire and even short-range air defense. The Bradley first entered US Army service in 1981, however, and the fleet has served through several wars. Even ongoing RESET, modernizations, and remanufacturing cannot keep them going indefinitely.
The Army’s problem is that replacing them has been a ton of trouble. Future Combat Systems’ MGV-IFV was terminated, along with the other MGV variants, by the 2010 budget. A proposal to replace it with a “Ground Combat Vehicle” (GCV) program raised concerns that the Army’s wish list would create an even less affordable solution. Now a revised GCV program is underway. Can it deliver a vehicle that will be effective on the battlefield? Just as important, can it deliver a vehicle that the US Army can afford to buy and maintain, in the midst of major national budgetary problems and swelling entitlement programs?
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