While we won't focus on vehicles per se here at Kit Up, there has been a vigorous discussion in the comments thread on the various merits and shortcomings of the Stryker wheeled vehicle and what might be needed in any future combat vehicles. So, I wanted to provide readers with a bit of information on the new Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV), the replacement program for the cancelled FCS manned ground vehicles (above is an artist's rendering of what the FCS infantry carrier might have looked like).
The Army plans to spend at least $7 billion over the nextfive years developing the GCV, with $934 million slotted for work in 2011 and nearly $2billion the next year. The Army wantsbuilders to begin work on the GCV's subsystems and modular components, such asthe engine, drive train, suspension, armor, turret, weapons, active protectionsystem and what it calls a "Mission Module Structure" to carry an infantrysquad. Prototypes of the various subsystems are to be ready for testing inearly 2012.
To get the process moving, the Army plans to award twocompetitive contracts in the fourth quarter FY2010. The Army expects buildersto use mostly mature technologies in an "evolutionary acquisition approach," thatallows for the "maximum affordable competition" documents say. A subsystempreliminary design review is scheduled for fourth quarter FY2011.
The Army believes a modular assembly approach will facilitateadding technological upgrades, weapons, armor, automotive components andcommunications networks, over time to the original GCV design. How far alongthe various modular components are in development, their technological"maturity," will be key to determining which company gets the GCV contract.
Building a vehicle that can plug into the Army's existingand future digital communications, surveillance and sensor architecture toprovide soldiers "superior" situational awareness is a Key PerformanceParameter (KPP), the documents say. The vehicle itself will carry a variety ofsensors to provide video feeds to crew and the infantry squad. The Army is alsolooking for a fuel efficient engine to power the GCV.
The GCV is to be equipped with a suite of non-lethal weaponsin addition to a turret mounted cannon (the documents don't specify what size cannon), documents say. Survivability againstIEDs and mines will factor huge in the vehicle's design and the hull mustsurvive "Level 1 underbelly threats" and it must mitigate against "harmfulaccelerations" to crew and passengers.
Nothing in the budget material about vehicle weight,although there is a reference to "tracks" as a component part, so apparently itwill be a tracked infantry fighting vehicle.