Earlier I gave you some notes I took on the forecasted expenditures of the services for armor products. The analyst from Vector Strategy also went into the forecasted expenditures of armored materials, including steel, ceramics and aramid fiber armors. But I thought that stuff was a bit speculative, so I won't pass it along unless any of you email me for it.
What she did talk about, however, were some "issues" that could affect her assumptions on materials and expenditures -- things that could raise or lower the amounts or contribute to the creation of a whole new category of material demands and dollars spent.
Some of those issues include:
- The Army's "grow the force" initiative: will the Army's expansion from 70 to 76 Brigade Combat Teams include Stryker-equipped ones or will they be infantry combat teams with less armor-intensive equipment? The service has not yet decided.
- Similar to the grow the force issues are the services efforts to transform its current forces into BCTs -- the so-called "modularization" initiative: Again, how many and how heavy vehicles will each of the BCTs and their support and coordinated units need?
- There are two ongoing studies being hammered out by the services on the future of their tactical wheeled vehicle plan -- one at the behest of the White House's Office of Management and Budget, the other at the insistence of DepSecDef Gordon England: What will these two studies say for future armored vehicle acquisition plans? How many JLTVs vs uparmored Humvees vs Strykers vs other new manned armored ground vehicles will the Army and Marine Corps buy?
- EFP-resistant upgrades: The services are still determining how many Humvees will require the Frag Kit #6 upgrades for greater EFP protection and how many of the Army's M113 ASVs will get the new Frag Kit #3 for the same resistance. Of course, the number and mix of MRAPs plays into this fudge factor.
- Marine Corps tactical vehicles: How many JLTVs, MRAPs and Humvee ECVs (expanded capacity vehicle) will the Corps buy? This will surely affect the quantity and types of armor needed from the market.
- The big question mark is the future of the Future Combat Systems: What mix of Bradley, Abrams other upgrades or new buys will the Army include in its overall manned ground vehicle future plans for FCS? There's a lot of question surrounding the future of the FCS plan and what will survive in this seemingly unwieldy program. We know NLOS is protected (thanks to Sen. Inhofe of Oklahoma where Fort Sill is located) but what of the troubled FCS ground vehicles will make it through technical and budget chops?
- Lastly, the Army's plan to replace the M113 ASV: It's in the 2010-2015 POM, but it's anyone's guess what will be the final choice.
Up next: Carbon nanotubes and their influence on the armor market.