We’ve written about the big tests that that the Army is planning this summer at Ft. Bliss, Tx. and the White Sands Missile Range (we’ll have lots more on this in the March issue of DTI), but it looks like Gen. Peter Chiarelli, vice chief of staff of the Army, is really excited about what his service is doing down there.
In a speech at the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) in Ft. Lauderdale yesterday, Chiarelli said that the tests on the network and other modernization equipment by the 2nd Brigade of the 1st Armored Division “will have historic meaning” for the service. What is happening at Ft. Bliss is “one of the most important things we’ve done in a long time” he said, since the Army now has an entire brigade whose sole purpose is to test and evaluate experimental gear before the Army decides to move forward on any procurement program. The general also has some interesting things to say about the Army’s Ground Combat Vehicle, the service’s infantry carrier of the future that is set to be fielded starting in 2017. “I think we learned the right lessons” from the failed Manned Ground Vehicle, the GCV’s predecessor and one of the failures of the Army’s ambitious Future Combat Systems program he said. The GCV’s requirements sheet instructs industry to use only mature technologies in order to speed production and drive down cost, which is essentially the opposite approach the Army took in its MGV program.
Looking across successful Army programs, Chiarelli thinks that the M1 Abrams tank is a good model on which to base the GCV, since the Abrams is a platform that has managed to change with the times while remaining relevant and useful across a range of scenarios even though it has been in service for over 30 years. The Abrams “has had incremental builds” he said, while remaining “a platform that still shows great potential for growth.”
The bit about the GCV hopefully taking its cues from the Abrams must have given some cheer to the folks at General Dynamics, since earlier in the day the company’s senior vp of ground combat systems, Mike Cannon, told me that the company plans on using the same engine and transmission in its GCV offering—BAE Systems and SAIC are the other industry bigs leading teams to try and win the contract—that it wants to put on its next upgrade of the Abrams. He said that the company is working with MTU and Allison to integrate the MTU 883 engine and Allison transmission into the Abrams tank and in it’s GCV submisison, which the company hopes will give them an edge in the competition since the Army is experimenting with a mixed brigade concept at White Sands this summer.
It’s way too early in the GCV game to read too much into this, but an interesting little tidbit nonetheless.
photo: us army