The Army’s main priority for the upgrade of its ground vehicle fleet remains the Ground Combat Vehicle—which is currently stalled while under protest—but it’s number two might come as a surprise. It’s not the JLTV or the Humvee Recap or the double V-hulled Stryker or the MRAP or even the MATV. It’s the Armored Multipurpose Vehicle (AMPV), which the deputy chief of staff for Army programs, Lt. Gen. Robert Lennox, earlier this week said was the service’s second greatest priority behind the GCV.
The M113 infantry carrier replacement program, which is in the fiscal year 2012 budget, has received relatively little attention until the Association of the US Army (AUSA) convention this week—but all of a sudden it seems to be all over the place. The AMPV is on the books as being a replacement for roughly 3,000 M113s in the Army’s Heavy Brigade Combat Team (HBCT) fleet.
Mike Cannon, the senior VP of Ground Combat Systems for General Dynamics, flat out says that “Stryker is AMPV. You don’t have to do anything to a Stryker to replace a 113 with it.” He added that the new double V-hulled Strykers which have recently been deployed to Afghanistan have been performing well, and that they have proven highly survivable in several IED strikes which have targeted them. Cannon would have no problem with a mixed fleet, saying that the Stryker is well suited to all of the missions outlined by the Army for its AMPV family, save perhaps the mortar variant.
Rick Burtnett, program manager for Bradley AMPV at BAE Systems displayed a similar confidence, noting that the company’s design the AMPV’s five variants: the ambulance, command post, general purpose, mortar and medical treatment vehicles can be traced back to the XM11 Armored Medical Evacuation Vehicle which it designed as a Bradley replacement in the late 1990s, before the now-cancelled Future Combat System’s Manned Ground Vehicle caused the Army to abandon the BAE design.
Over a decade later we’re apparently back to the late 90s, and BAE is dusting off the program. Burtnett estimates that there are currently about 1,500 mothballed Bradleys that can be refit and reset for the program, adding that the company is ready to go right now on the work, since their scalable design is completed. The design includes a variable height top, and removable and reconfigurable underbelly armor plating that can be added or removed to meet a mission’s survivability requirements. Bertnett added that if the Army goes with the BAE solution, its Heavy Brigade Combat Teams would have a whopping 74 percent commonality across the fleet.