Troops are getting their hands on the first batch of the Army's new armored personnel carriers, replacing a Vietnam-era vehicle that accounted for nearly one-third of tracked vehicles in the service's heavy armor units.
On Monday, roughly 20 of the new vehicles were delivered to the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, according to Breaking Defense and the Army.
The Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle, or AMPV, is a tracked armored vehicle with similar gearing and suspension as the M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle, 60 of which are on their way to Ukraine amid Russia's renewed invasion.
The AMPV is replacing the M113, a vehicle that has been a part of the Army's tracked corps for more than 60 years. The service plans to build its AMPV fleet to nearly 3,000 vehicles in the next 20 years, according to a Tuesday press release.
"The AMPV is a major piece of Army modernization," said Maj. Gen. Glenn Dean, program executive officer for the Army's ground combat platforms. "The platform offers soldiers better protection and survivability, and completing First Unit Equipped is a major milestone that could not have been accomplished without the entire Army and industry team."
The new AMPV comes in five variants -- a medical evacuation track; a medical treatment vehicle that will serve as a "surgery suite;" a type that includes numerous communication and network capabilities; a mortar carrier; and a general-purpose variant.
The AMPV was designed by BAE Systems, the Pennsylvania-based offshoot of the British defense giant that was awarded the contract in 2014. The first prototype was created two years later. Production and fielding experienced several delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The delivery and development mark the first new track systems for the service since the 1980s, according to Bill Sheehy, AMPV program director for BAE. The vehicle's fielding is part of what the Army refers to as its "24 in 23" program, a forcewide effort to bring new equipment to units and soldiers this year.
The M113 has been a staple in the Armored Brigade Combat Team, the Army's premier armored formation, for decades. The general-purpose version is typically entrusted to first sergeants, the top noncommissioned officers in a company-sized unit tasked -- in part -- with bringing food, ammunition and medical care to the battlefield.
Now, those NCOs, as well as command, medical and mortar teams are getting the new AMPVs that the Army said provide better "survivability, protection, weight, size, power, cooling and compatibility with future technologies," according to the Tuesday release.
"The Army is transforming our ABCT through integration of improved technology with warfighting concepts across the force. These modernization efforts increase our capacity to deter adversaries and, if necessary, fight and win in combat," said Col. Peter Moon, commander of 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division. "We look forward to the capabilities that AMPV will bring to the battlefield to ensure we remain lethal and ready to win the fight."
-- Drew F. Lawrence can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @df_lawrence.