Army wants new proposals for an 'optionally manned' infantry vehicle
By SLOBODAN LEKIC | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 18, 2020
The Army is moving ahead with proposals for a long-delayed plan to replace the aging M-2 Bradley with an infantry vehicle that can be remotely controlled when soldiers dismount.
The service will issue the final request for proposals and award up to five contracts for the new Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle by June 2021, Brig. Gen. Ross Coffman, director of the Next Generation Combat Vehicles Cross-Functional Team, said in a statement Tuesday.
This will be followed by a second proposal request for a detailed design to be ready within about 18 months, Coffman said.
The Army has sought to replace the Bradley since 2009. Several past programs to field a successor have been canceled since then, the latest in January 2020. The Bradley is considered to have reached the technological limits of its capacity to accommodate new electronics, armor and defense systems.
The push for an upgraded vehicle comes as the Pentagon focuses on countering sophisticated adversaries such as Russia and China. For a new infantry fighting vehicle, that means putting greater emphasis on survivability in combat.
In April, the Army updated its requirements for the vehicle, putting survivability at the top of the list ahead of mobility, which historically had been a top area of focus.
“We will fight outnumbered and we must possess the technology that allows us to do that,” Coffman said.
In a battle against near-peer adversaries, soldiers will need to push through contested areas where they may encounter tanks, helicopters, artillery and other fighting vehicles, the Army said.
“It needs to be able to defeat those capabilities or else we can’t get through the security zone,” Coffman said.
The Army said it plans to call for five bidders to participate in the initial phase. These will be cut down to three before a prime contractor is selected ahead of the vehicle’s scheduled deployment in 2028.
The Army plans to field the OMFV to both active and National Guard armored brigade combat teams. About $4.6 billion is invested in the program from 2020 to 2026.
Several contractors have expressed interest in the program. They include Germany’s Rheinmetall, which is offering its Lynx KF41 infantry fighting vehicle; BAE Systems, the Bradley’s manufacturer; and General Dynamics Land Systems.
A Bradley Fighting Vehicle from the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, conducts a gunnery exercise at Fort Stewart, Ga., Dec. 7, 2016. The Army is about to publish its new solicitation for an Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle, which is expected to start replacing the Bradley in 2028.
ERICK RITTERBY/U.S. ARMY