The U.S. Army Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) program has awarded General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) a low-rate production order valued at $1.14 billion. The unidentified tank is the latest design in over 30 years and intends to fulfill an operational shortfall for Infantry Brigade Combat Teams. Let’s jump into the Army’s plans for this unmarked tank.
Suggested read: Drive a Tank at the American Heritage Museum
Mobile Protected Firepower Program
— The Washington Times (@WashTimes) June 29, 2022
The Mobile Protected Firepower program is part of the Army’s broader Next Generation Combat Vehicle program. Previously, a similar project for the M8 Buford Armored Gun System was in effect but was canceled in 1996 over budgetary constraints.
In recent years, the Army has issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase for two Middle Tier Acquisition (MTA) contracts. On December 17, 2018, the Army selected contracts for rapid prototyping for GDLS and BAE Systems Land and Armaments LP. The MTA contracts required 12 pre-production vehicles from both vendors for development, operational testing, and a Soldier Vehicle Assessment (SVA).
In March 2021, BAE Systems delivered its prototypes to the Army for operational testing, and GDLS delivered its prototypes earlier in December 2020 in Fort Bragg, NC. BAE Systems experienced production difficulties and supplier issues related to COVID-19, so they were absent during the initial testing. In total, the training lasted around seven months, and the prototypes were put through various operational scenarios.
According to an Army testimony to the Senate Armed Forces Services Subcommittee on Airland on May 10, 2022, the MPF is set to begin low-rate production, with the first fielding of the unmarked tank planned for the fiscal year 2025.
Mobile Protected Firepower Vehicles
BAE Systems and General Dynamics Land Systems launched two new U.S. Army tanks. BAE Systems’ prototype was based around the M8 Buford Armored Gun System and featured modernized components, capabilities, and upgrades to the armored gun system.
General Dynamics Land Systems provided a light tank that featured M1 Abrams battle tank technologies. For example, it was equipped with a giant caliber cannon and ultra-modern diesel engine that allowed for extended tactical range and a high power-to-weight ratio.
BAE Systems eventually got eliminated from the program, and the Army officially selected GDLS and their MPF as the new Army tank. This fall, the new light Army tank will acquire a formal name during the Association of the U.S. Army’s main annual convention in Washington, D.C.
M1 Abrams Replacement?
Many of you may be asking, “Is the new Army Mobile Protected Firepower going to replace the M1 Abrams?”
Well, the new GDLS MPF hasn’t been named the M1 Abrams replacement just yet, and the U.S. Army continues to study viable options to replace the M1 Abrams.
The Future of the Mobile Protected Firepower Light Tank
The Army plans to buy 504 new light Mobile Protected Firepower tanks, with the bulk arriving by late 2035. The first unit is scheduled for the fourth quarter of the fiscal year 2025. During the low-rate production phase, the Army plans to conduct qualification testing, including lethality, mobility, survivability, full-up system live-fire, and reliability testing. The new light tank has successfully fulfilled the operational shortfalls that Infantry Brigade Combat Teams experience and is designed to adapt to new challenges put in its way.
Related read: Meet The New Military Rifle: Sig Sauer’s M4 Replacement
Image: Kristina Blokhin – stock.adobe.com