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The Ground Combat Infantry Fighting Vehicle is an infantry fighting vehicle being developed for the U.S. Army. The program originated as the lead vehicle of the U.S. Army's Ground Combat Vehicle program coordinated by TACOM and spawned a parallel program coordinated by DARPA. The purpose of the program is to replace existing armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles in U.S. Army service. The DARPA project aims to have the vehicle designed by 2015. Derivatives of the vehicle based on a common chassis—such as tanks and ambulances—are expected to be manufactured. It replaces the previous attempt at a next-generation infantry transport, the XM1206 Infantry Carrier Vehicle.
The Army emphasizes affordability, rapid deployment and low risk technology for the GCV. The army requires that all aspects of the Ground Combat Vehicle be at technology readiness level 6. The shortfalls of rapid deployment would be mitigated through an incremental addition of components as technology matures. The Army provides details from the Manned Ground Vehicle effort to utilize on the GCV. The GCV is required to have better protection than any vehicle in the military's inventory.
General Peter W. Chiarelli has said that the "four main fundamentals" of the vehicle are: The ability to carry 12 soldiers, operate in all forms of combat, have significant protection and deliver the first production vehicle by 2018.
The Mounted Soldier System (MSS) is being developed for GCV crew members. MSS works as a force multiplier enhancing situation awareness, comfort, and safety. Dismounted leaders will utilize the Ground Soldier Systems.
The IFV would be operable with the current Battle Command Control and Communications Suite but would gradually use a more revolutionary networked integration system. The system would support integration with unmanned systems, and dismounted soldiers, providing adaptive access points and connectivity. The new network concept calls for decentralization of decision making.
The Mounted Soldier System enhances situational awareness through wireless communications and input from vehicle sensors and external sources such as other vehicles.
The IFV would provide exportable electrical power, and battery charging capability for soldier systems.
The IFV must be transportable by C-17 cargo aircraft, rail and ship. The Army will limit the vehicle to the dimensions of the C-17 rather than smaller aircraft such as the C-130, which in the past has restricted many designs. The Army requires the IFV to be as logistically deployable as the current Stryker. The IFV will have good cross-country mobility, with a baseline requirement of 30 miles per hour (48 km/h) off-road speed. A certain degree of the ability to ford and cross gaps will also be required. The IFV should deliver improved maintainability and consume less fuel than the Bradley Fighting Vehicle or other vehicles of similar weight and power.
In its standard configuration the IFV will have a crew of three and carry a squad of nine. The vehicle can be reconfigured to support casualty evacuation. The Army has stated no preference as to whether the IFV should be tracked or wheeled but suggests that it be tracked due to the weight stemming from the requirements.
The army would like the vehicle to feature a commander’s weapons station, autocannon, coaxial weapon, and an anti-tank guided missile system. The weapons suite must be manually operable when damaged and the commander's weapon station must incorporate a shield. Additionally, a dismountable anti-armor weapon will be carried on board. The Army also stated that the weapon suite will emphasis modularity, be able to defeat other IFVs and provide non-lethal capability to enable use in civilian environments.
In May 2012, the Army's Project Manager for Maneuver Ammunition System (PM MAS) began to emphasize the need for munitions suppliers to begin readying for GCV IFV ammunition needs. Solutions ranged from 25 mm to 50 mm, but 30x173mm was identified as "the most likely" design to meet lethality and stowed kill requirements. Specific requirements were for airburst capability to defeat infantry targets (with high explosive incendiary recognized as a “less effective alternative”), armor-piercing rounds to defeat material threats, and training ammunition for each tactical round. Potential candidates included five U.S. produced and three foreign-made rounds. On 7 August 2013, sources sought announcement for a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement for 30x173 mm ammunition: 2,700 rounds of Mk 238 Mod 1 High Explosive Incendiary-Tracer (HEI-T), 2,000 rounds of Mk 258 Armor Piercing Fin Stabilized Discarding Sabot-Tracer (APFSDS-T), 2,000 rounds of Mk 268 Armor Piercing Fin Stabilized Discarding Sabot-Tracer (APFSDS-T), and 2,000 rounds of Mk 317 Target Practice Discarding Sabot-Tracer (TPDS-T). The announcement calls for the cartridges to be compatible with the Bushmaster III weapon system, such as XM813 and/or Mk 44 Mod 1. All interested participants must provide the ammo quantities and associated information before the end of March 2015.
Thermal management and acoustic noise reduction will be utilized to avoid detection. The vehicle will be able to avoid threats by laying obscurants. An array of hit avoidance systems will be leveraged and the army has offered the various active protection systems developed for the manned ground vehicle program. The GCV enables the detection and neutralization of mines at standoff ranges. The vehicle is also equipped with an engagement detection system. The army requires the IFV to have the passive blast protection level equal to the MRAP. The army is making available the composition of the armor of the manned ground vehicle program. A transparent armor shield will provide protection for the vehicle commander when exposed through the turret. Personnel will leverage harnesses and restraints to mitigate trauma. In addition, a Vehicle Health Management System will provide vehicle diagnostic monitoring systems for commanders. A fire suppression system and ammunition detonation protection will be utilized for damage control.
The Mounted Soldier System will protect crew members from ballistic, thermal, and CBRN threats. The Mounted Soldier System incorporates fire retardant systems such as the Improved Combat Vehicle Crewman Coverall and undergarments, facewear, gloves, and footwear. Ballistic protection will come from the Combat Vehicle Crewman Helmet, eyewear, a maxillofacial shield and improvements to body armor. A secondary squad egress is provided for the squad to exit in emergencies.
The Infantry Fighting Vehicle variant is intended to fill the infantry transport role in Heavy Brigade Combat Teams replacing the aging M113 APC, M2 Bradley and M1126 Infantry Carrier Vehicle. It is the U.S. Army's intention that this IFV replace the M113 APC in the near term and the M2 Bradley, and M1126 ICV in the midterm.
In the U.S. Army, as part of the ongoing restructuring, Heavy Brigade Combat Team Brigades would have an arsenal of 62 IFV's, battalions would have 29, and platoons would have 4. Platoons are to be led by platoon leader GCV which would be accompanied by platoon medic, forward observer, Radio Transmission Operator and other attachments and would command three other GCVs.
The Army places importance on the GCV's ability to carry a full nine-man squad. Numerous Army studies have concluded that a squad, containing two fireteams, should be composed of nine to eleven soldiers. These numbers allow the squad to accomplish the fire and maneuver doctrine, and for squad resilience, lethality, and leader span of control. The M2 Bradley cannot carry a complete squad from one vehicle, creating risk when transitioning from mounted to dismounted operations. The Bradley's lower carrying capacity was accepted for greater (than previous vehicles) mounted lethality and cost savings, leading to squads being broken apart for transport. A GCV with a nine-man squad would allow the squad leader to control and communicate with the squad while mounted, simplify the transition to dismounted operations in complex terrain, and allow the squad to conduct independent fire and maneuver immediately upon dismount. Replacing the Bradley on a one-for-one basis would have four GCVs per mechanized infantry platoon carrying one full nine-man squad in a single vehicle, with three vehicles carrying squads and one carrying the platoon's organic and attached enablers.
The Ground Combat Vehicle is envisioned to be a model of acquisition reform. The initial program was canceled a year into development and was soon replaced with a new program better emphasizing affordability.
In the initial plan, the first variant of the vehicle was to be prototyped in 2015 and fielded by 2017. The U.S. military planned on procuring 1,450 IFVs at a total program cost of $40 billion. The program was abruptly canceled in August 2010, before any contracts were awarded.
An Army presentation in March revealed that TARDEC, ARL, and TRADOC - ARCIC had partnered to analyze the survivability of the army's "Ground Combat Vehicle". Army Chief of Staff Robert Gates announced his intention of halting funding for the XM1206 Infantry Carrier Vehicle of the FCS manned ground vehicle program in April 2009. In late May, Army and Department of Defense representatives outlined plans for the cancellation of Future Combat Systems and the initiation of the Ground Combat Vehicle program in its place. On 15 and 16 June, a blue-ribbon panel convened in Washington D.C. to determine the requirements for the Ground Combat Vehicle. It was concluded at this meeting that an Infantry Fighting Vehicle would be the first vehicle variant fielded. Defense contractors were not allowed to attend but at least six in attendance were employed by defense companies that eventually bid on the GCV contract. On 23 June, Future Combat Systems was formally dissolved and many programs including the Manned Ground Vehicle program were canceled with it. On 19 October, contractors turned up for a U.S. Army organized industry day event in Dearborn, Michigan to learn about the requirements. In late October PEO Integration was established to oversee subsystems of BCT Modernization including the GCV. On 24 November, a second industry day was held in Warren, Michigan.
After much delay, reviews necessary for continuation were held throughout February, in Washington D.C. The GCV review was officially passed on 25 February and a request for proposal (RfP) was issued the same day. It was revealed in the RfP that the GCV would be a cost-plus contract. Companies had 60 days to respond, but this offer was extended an additional 25 days. In May, a "red team" was formed to curtail the GCVs 7-year development schedule. By the 21 May deadline, four proposals were submitted. On 1 July, management of the GCV was transferred from PEO Integration to PEO Ground Combat Systems with Andrew DiMarco as project manager.
For fiscal year 2011, the U.S. Army intended to spend $934 million of the $2.5 billion allocated for BCT Modernization to develop the GCV. Reportedly, $100 million was removed from the yet to be approved budget but the budget continued to reported as $934 million.
On 25 August the army retracted its request for proposals after the red team assembled in May recommended that the army either upgrade the existing ground vehicle fleet or rewrite the requirements.
The Technology Development Phase (or Milestone A) was to begin with the award of up to three vehicle contracts awarded in late Fiscal Year 2010 under the Technology Development Phase Contract. A Preliminary Design Review would follow in mid FY 2012. The U.S. military planned to spend $7.6 billion during Milestone A.
The Engineering and Manufacturing Development Phase (or Milestone B) was to begin with two prototype development contracts awarded in the beginning of Fiscal Year 2013 under the Engineering & Manufacturing Development Contract. Shortly thereafter, an Interim Critical Design Review would follow in Mid-FY 2013. After a nearly two-year manufacturing period the first prototypes would be manufactured Mid-FY 2015 after which a Critical Design Review and a Production Readiness Review would occur in FY 2015 and FY 2016 respectively.
The Low Rate Initial Production Phase (or Milestone C) was to begin with a low-rate production contract awarded in mid Fiscal Year 2016 under the Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) contract. Less than two years after the contract award LRIP would begin. After more testing a battalion-sized team would be attained in FY 2018 followed by a brigade-sized arsenal in FY 2019.
There were four known competing contractors for the Ground Combat Vehicle contract.
In September, Alion Science and Technology was awarded a $23,828,000 contract modification for the development of systems supporting GCV development. This contract was tendered by the U.S. Air Force and $2,180,000 in funds was obligated at the time of the award. An industry day was held 1 October in Dearborn, Michigan. The Army reduced its requested FY 2011 budget to $462 million. Advanced Defense Vehicle Systems, General Dynamics Land Systems, and BAE Systems announced their intention of re-competing soon after the cancellation. A revised RfP was to be issued around 27 October 2010. Military officials met on 20 October to discuss delaying the RfP to allow leaders time to deliberate about requirements. The panel recommended releasing the RfP without delay but George Casey said he would need time to commit to a decision. Senior leaders at the meeting felt that the 27 October target could be met. The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform suggested deferring development of the GCV until after 2015.
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The revised RfP was issued on 30 November. ADVS announced its decision to not submit a proposal. ADVS decision not to compete was stated to be that the vehicle's slow procurement timeline was not suited to "ADVS’ rapid development and fielding capabilities".
Up to three cost-plus contracts were to be awarded nine months after the RfP was released. An acquisition decision memorandum on 17 August allowed the program to award technology development contracts. It also initiated two reviews of alternatives including a revised analysis of alternatives and an analysis of non-developmental vehicles. The 18 August, the Army awarded technology development contracts to only BAE and GDLS. BAE was awarded $450 million while GDLS was awarded $440 million. SAIC followed up with a bid protest on 26 August further delaying GCV development. It believes the evaluations process was flawed and the evaluation took factors into consideration that were not stated in the request for proposal.
$884 million is requested by the U.S. Army to fund the GCV in FY 2012. The technology development phase will be a 24 months long, 3 months shorter than the previous plan. The Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase will be 48 months long. The Army plans on acquiring 1,874 GCVs to replace Bradleys in 16 active and 8 National Guard Heavy Brigade Combat Teams.
Testing of commercially available combat vehicles began in May 2012 at Fort Bliss and White Sands Missile Range to prepare the Army for Milestone B. The Non-Developmental Vehicle analysis assessed five vehicles, the M2A3 Bradley, Namer, CV-9035, a double v-hulled M1126 Infantry Carrier Vehicle and a turretless Bradley. The tests, completed on May 25, were carried out to determine what vehicle variants and configurations fulfill the Army's needs. The Army found that although the vehicles assessed met some GCV requirements, no currently fielded vehicle met enough without needing significant redesign.
There were three known competing contractors for the Ground Combat Vehicle contract.
A Milestone C decision could be made in 2019.
In November 2012, estimates of the GCV's weight, depending on armor packages, put the General Dynamics entry vehicle at 64-70 tons, and the BAE Systems entry vehicle at 70-84 tons. This makes the planned infantry fighting vehicle designs heavier than the M1 Abrams tank. The reason is the vehicle must have enough armor to protect a squad of nine troops from all battlefield threats, from rocket-propelled grenades to IEDs, as good as or better than other vehicles can protect against specific threats individually. This works against the vehicle, as the weight increases, cost goes up and maneuverability goes down. The contractors are currently working to bring the weight down. The Army maintains that heavy armor is needed to protect the squad from acceleration forces that come with an underside blast, and that thicker underbelly plates and V-shaped hulls do not give enough protection. More armor will come from the vehicle being larger for more internal space for the soldiers, and to allow for features such as floating floors for blast deflection and extra headroom. The Army also says heavy weight will not affect deployability because the Bradley it is replacing already requires strategic airlift transport aircraft.
Both contractors claim their designs are below the 70-84 tons expectation of what the GCV will weigh. BAE's vehicle weighs 60-70 tons, based on modular armor package, and a 20 percent margin for weight increase the Army has planned for future upgrades would bring it up to 84 tons. General Dynamic's vehicle with a diesel engine weighs 62 tons in its most heavily armored configuration, which increases to 76 tons with the 20 percent future upgrade margin. Removing protection for easier air transportation could reduce it to 56 tons. The Army's consideration to slow down the GCV development program can give time to the companies to refine their designs and reduce weight. One way would be to reduce squad size. A nine-man squad has been identified as best for being able to fight with the possibility of taking casualties with single-vehicle transportability. With a three-man crew, the GCV has to carry 12 men. A greater number of lighter IFVs that carry fewer soldiers would have similar carrying capacity and combined costs and weight to planned GCV numbers. Another way is an advance in armor designs. Lighter and stronger armor materials have not made radical progressions in recent history, and domestic active protection intercept systems are not yet mature. Foreign systems like the Israeli Trophy have seen combat but cannot yet intercept tank shells. The GCV program originally included an APS, but it is now a feature for later upgrades. The last effort to replace the Bradley was with Future Combat Systems, which developed a vehicle that relied on sensors to avoid danger and an APS in place of heavy armor. It was too ambitious for the time and the vehicle's weight had grown from 19 tons to 30 tons by the time it was cancelled.
The TACOM project spawned a parallel program by DARPA called Fast Adaptable Next-Generation (FANG) GCV. The contest utilizes crowdsourcing to engineer several IFVs. The program will occur in three phases. The Mobility/Drivetrain Challenge lasts nine months and begins in mid-2012. A prize of $0.5-1 million for winning design or designs will be awarded. The Chassis/Integrated Survivability Challenge lasts nine months and begins in the beginning of 2013 concurrent to the Mobility/Drivetrain Challenge. A prize of $0.5-1 million for winning design or designs will be awarded. The Total Platform Challenge lasts 15 months and begins in late 2013. A prototype would be completed and this could potentially compete with TACOM's GCV. The vehicle's design itself would be open source.
The Congressional Budget Office has questioned the affordability of the GCV and has suggested that Bradleys be modernized instead. Industry leaders and the Army have criticized the CBO report, saying it did not account for changes in the program and unfairly weighted requirements against each other.
The BAE Systems Ground Combat Vehicle design has a 3-man crew and can carry a squad of nine troops. It has a steel-core hull and an integrated electronic network capability with embedded intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance equipment. Its turret is unmanned. The centerpiece of the vehicle is its simplified drive train. It is propelled by a Hybrid Electric Drive (HED), which was developed Northrop Grumman, that produces 1,100 kW of electricity. Advantages to it are fewer components and lower volume and weight compared to current power plants. The transmission is 40 percent smaller and the drive train has half the moving parts. The hybrid drive train costs 5 percent more than a mechanical system, but has a 20 percent reduction in life-cycle cost. The electric drive allows for smoother low-speed operation and less noise. The vehicle burns 20 percent less fuel while running, with 4.61 gallons (17.45 liters) per hour used while stationary. It has a top speed of 43 mph (70 km/h), can go from 0 to 20 mph (32.18 km/hr) in 7.8 seconds, and has a range of 186 mi (299 km) with a 255 gallon fuel capacity. Disadvantages to the BAE design include a weight of 70 tons and fuel efficiency of only 0.73 mpg. It has been argued that big, heavy vehicles are not practical in urban combat and that the infrastructure of urban and third-world countries should limit the vehicle's weight to 45 tons. Others say that urban warfare tactics have become so lethal that only vehicles of this size can survive. BAE is considering integrating the Artis Iron Curtain active protection system to defeat incoming rockets and missiles before they can hit the vehicle. An APS is not an initial Army requirement. Tests were conducted in April 2013 for integration, but the system still needs to mature. A prototype system for the vehicle to drive in low visibility conditions is being tested. A Humvee with blacked-out windows drove through a smoke-filled mock town with the system safely, even though visibility was completely obscured. In August 2013, the BAE GCV's hybrid electric drive completed 2,000 miles of testing on a fully integrated “Hotbuck” mobility platform. The Hotbuck is a stationary test stand that simulates real-life environments and terrain and puts actual miles on the HED system. Under BAE's own timeline, the testing was completed four months ahead of schedule. Developing and testing actual hardware was not a program requirement for the Technology Development (TD) phase, but BAE Systems chose to demonstrate the fuel efficiency and performance of a hybrid system. Although dramatic funding cuts for the GCV program in January 2014 put the very completion of the acquisition effort in jeopardy, funding remains for research on a hybrid-electric propulsion system. The BAE GCV's hybrid-electric engine is more fuel efficient, has fewer moving parts, and has faster acceleration than ordinary engines. While powering a vehicle concept that reached 70 tons proved impractical, its benefits of providing power for onboard electronics, silent overwatch, and short, stealthy movements are still promising. BAE has pledged to support future Army developmental efforts with technologies from their GCV entry.
On 31 October 2013, General Dynamics successfully completed a preliminary design review of their GCV IFV design. Subsystem and component design reviews were held from August to October of that year and lead to the four-day PDR. General Dynamics demonstrated their vehicle met Tier 1 affordability, reliability, and other requirements. The success of the PDR means that the General Dynamics GCV IFV can be expected to be operationally effective and suitable.
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