The Armies After FCS


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Practical plans for armored vehicle modernization, and implications for Canadian-American cooperation in military materiel

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The Armies After FCS

  1. 1. THE ARMIES AFTER FCS Practical plans for armored vehicle modernization, and implications for Canadian-American cooperation in military materiel The fourth in a series on military-industrial markets in 2009 Hasik Analytic LLC
  2. 2. The Armies after FCS The fourth in a series on military-industrial markets in 2009 Summary The demise of the US Armyʼs Future Combat System (FCS) program has opened opportunities for more practical plans for armored vehicle modernization. The service has replaced its formerly all-encompassing and over-reaching approach with a vector of perhaps ten separate efforts to update, extend, and recapitalize its fleet. The large sums being invested in even these more modest development efforts may be particularly useful beyond the needs of just the US Army. In particular, upgrades to the Stryker, and development of so many designs for the MRAP All Terrain Vehicle (M-ATV) and Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) programs, may be very valuable to two specific Canadian Army vehicle initiatives: LAV-III modernization and the Tactical Armored Patrol Vehicle (TAPV). This paper was prepared at the invitation of Canadian-American Security Review ( ON THE COVER Staff Sergeant Andrew Frengel and several other soldiers of the 104th Pennsylvania Cavalry, 56th Stryker Brigade, move through Sab al Bour, Iraq, on 20 July 2009. Photograph by Sergeant Doug Roles, Pennsylvania National Guard. ABOUT THE AUTHOR James Hasik is a principal of Hasik Analytic, a founder of the firm, and a member of the Council on Emerging National Security Affairs. He can be reached at +1-512-299-1269 or ABOUT US Hasik Analytic LLC is a management consultancy dedicated to the success of the industrial organizations that supply the tools of global security Hasik Analytic LLC
  3. 3. The Armies after FCS The fourth in a series on military-industrial markets in 2009 US President Barack Obama’s decision to send another 35,000 troops to Afghanistan is naturally spurring discussion of just how those troops will be outfitted and supported. Indeed, the move is of such strategic import that it is crowding out much conversation over whatever else might pass for ground forces modernization in the US Army and Ma- rine Corps. Now that Mr. Obama has rejected a peremptory pullout from Afghanistan, reactionary elements in the Army have probably lost their last chance to try to return planning to intellectually familiar Fulda Gap scenarios of the Cold War. Retreating to a comfortable, Cold War Light worldview would cede the upper hand in budgetary battles to the other services—assuming that they bring themselves about to pursuing the struc- tures and systems meant for policing the global commons. Rather below the fold of attention these days, then, is what is following the Army’s now- foundered Future Combat System (FCS) program. It is important to remember why things went awry with that effort. It was only in late 2008, after five years of work by the Army, Boeing, SAIC, BAE Systems, and General Dynamics, that Defense Secretary Rob- ert Gates asked about the mine protection qualities of the so-termed Manned Ground Vehicles (MGVs) then under development. Learning that the vehicles would have flat bottoms with eighteen inches of ground clearance was the last straw. Today, Afghani- stan may not be the only war for which to prepare, but it is clearly the next war that must be won. The Army’s Emerging Plans Thus, it now appears that the Army's leadership is coming around to heed the dictum from its former chief of staff, Eric Shinseki: “if you dislike change, you're going to dislike irrelevance even more.”1 Through decisions of the both leadership of the Defense De- partment and the Army Department specifically, what is coming next is not a single pro- gram, but array of armored vehicle plans meant for full-spectrum operations. There are roughly ten major, interrelated aspects to vector on which the Army is heading: Buy almost 10,000 M-ATVs for the Afghan campaign, and beyond. The new surge into Afghanistan is leading to at least one industrial windfall. As Reuters reported recently, Defense Secretary Robert Gates quickly noted how Right now we have the money in the budget, I believe, for 5,000 or 6,000 MRAP all-terrain vehicles [M-ATVs]. With the additional forces that are being sent in, we are © Hasik Analytic LLC 1 28 December 2009 1 Mackubin Thomas Owens, “Marines Turned Soldiers,” National Review Online, 10 December 2001.
  4. 4. probably going to recommend increasing that number, to protect those troops, to about 10,000.2 The speed of Gates’ decision-making is underwritten by the pace of Oshkosh’s work; as the defense secretary put it during a factory tour last month, the M-ATV has gone from conception to fielding faster than almost any major military equipment program since World War II.3 The speed and size of that industrial effort, and the broader MRAP effort that preceded it, have dominated discussions of how to equip the troops taking the fight to the Taliban. The Marines will take some of these vehicles, but even so, the Army will find itself with a fleet of almost 10,000 six-seater, off-road, 4x4 wheeled armored vehicles—in addition to its existing fleets of 4x4 and 6x6 MRAPs, and 8x8 Strykers. The long-term question here is what will come of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) program. The JLTV is in- deed meant to be a different vehicle, with similar survivability but somehow a few fewer tons of weight. That is a big deal to the Marine Corps, which cannot lift an M-ATV by helicopter off a carrier deck. It is less obviously critical to the Army, though. Retain at least 3,700 RG33s for route clearance companies and infantry brigade motorization. The large number of vehicles represents a lot of sappers de- voted to mine countermeasures, and a clear indication that the US Army is permanently taking the mine threat seriously. The official term for the kit in mind is the Panther Me- dium Mine-Protected Vehicle (MMPV).4 About 1,200 will be upgraded from RG33s pur- chased for infantry and other units through the MRAP program; another 2,500 are RG33s on order from BAE Systems through 2015. The continuing commitment to the MRAP also indicates an acceptance of the impor- tance of armoring all infantry. It’s awkward that the Army calls its formations without organic armored vehicles infantry brigades—it has infantry units in the heavy and Stryker brigades as well. But at least it doesn’t call them light. Airborne, airmobile, mountain—whatever their moniker, troops are not light if they’re riding in MRAPs—at that point, they’re effectively panzergrenadiere. And as the campaigns in Iraq and Af- ghanistan have demonstrated, infantry—regardless of cap badge—are going to ride un- der armor whenever it’s appropriate. The big question for industry—particularly for those contractors with an interest in their installed base of vehicles—is how many trucks will be needed beyond the 10,000 M-ATVs that the Army and Marines plan to procure. More vehicles in the inventory means more possibility for upgrade work later; fewer The Armies After FCS © Hasik Analytic LLC 2 28 December 2009 2 “US eyes 5,000 more MRAPS for Afghan surge—Gates,” Reuters, 3 December 2009. 3 Jeff Bollier, “Defense Secretary Robert Gates praises Oshkosh Corp. workers for quick delivery of the M-ATV mine resistant truck to Afghanistan,” The Northwestern, 12 November 2009 4 Jennifer Fitch, “ʻPanther' designed to keep troops safer,” Chambersburg (Pennsylvania) Herald-Mail, 23 June 2009.
  5. 5. means less opportunity domestically, but alternative opportunities through surplus sales to overseas forces. Buy about another hundred Buffalo A2s for route clearance companies. While there is precious little information on the outyears available directly from the De- fense Department, another hundred Buffalos is the estimate from Force Protection’s re- cent investor call, which presumably is based on solid indications from the Army. Given the importance of route clearance, the reputation of the Buffalo, and the fetching image it has garnered with then public, the number certainly doesn’t seem low. If the Army re- tain its current inventory of A1 Buffalos, it could wind up with a fleet of roughly 400. Replace the Bradley with something more survivable—and called the Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV). The Army officially abandoned interest in up- grades to the Bradley after the 1999 campaign in Kosovo, when the Stryker became its ‘Interim armored Vehicle,’ and again after the 2001 campaign in Afghanistan, when ar- mored vehicles were only slightly used. Heavier utilization and free-flowing funds after 2003 led the service back to a big commitment. Now, with the conversion of a few more heavy brigades to the Stryker formations over the next few years (and the concomitant reduction in requirements for tracked vehicles), the Army will find itself by the end of 2011 with a pure fleet of M2/3A3 Bradleys in the Regulars, holding M2/3A2 ODS (“Op- erational Desert Storm”) Bradleys only in the National Guard. The firepower of these vehicles is so impressive that they have been occasionally been called ‘tank destroyers with passenger seats.’ That said, the flat-bottomed, aluminum- hulled Bradley remains vulnerable to mines. This and their low seating capacity together explain why they have been clocking less than half the mileage of MRAPs in Iraq, and one-fourth that of Strykers. What comes next—other than the moniker GCV—is the big- gest question mark amongst the Army’s investments options, because until recently, the leadership of the service hasn’t been clear or consistent about what it has wanted. Army Chief of Staff General George Casey said in October that he was thinking about a roughly 24-ton vehicle that seats nine or ten, which could very well suggest a wheeled platform. That contrasts sharply with comments from other generals who were thinking about a 35 to 40-ton vehicle, which presumably would be tracked. The desires that emerged from three ‘industry days’ that the Army held in southeastern Michigan over the past three months provide more clarity, but little more certainty.5 To be sure, the Army is providing plenty of time for development. While the request for proposals is scheduled to be released next February, the winning bidder will have from the end of 2010 until 2017 to get the first vehicles into the field. It may also have plenty of money: Inside the Army has reported that the Office of the Secretary of Defense re- cently approved shifting $4 billion to the Army’s vehicle development budget over the The Armies After FCS © Hasik Analytic LLC 3 28 December 2009 5 Bettina H. Chavanne, “New Combat Vehicle for U.S. Army,” Aerospace Daily & Defense Report, 4 De- cember 2009.
  6. 6. next five years. Ceteris paribus, that will be useful, because amongst other things, this GCV must ■ be transportable by ship, rail, and C-17 Globemaster III aircraft ■ carry a crew of three and a dismounting section of nine ■ carry a remote weapon station (thus freeing up room inside for 12 people), and ■ offer “the urban mobility of a Stryker and the off-road mobility of a Bradley.” The last quote is by Paul Mehney, the Army’s representative for its Brigade Combat Team Modernization (BCTM) program at the last briefing to industry.6 Inside the Army reported recently how the outgoing deputy chief of staff for programs, Lt. General Ste- phen Speakes, the previous deputy chief of staff for programs, told the media in October at his last roundtable before retiring that the vehicle would emphasize urban mobility, because cities are where the Army expects to find itself frequently fighting in the future.7 If by urban mobility, they mean lower road impact and higher road speed, then as Sponge Bob says, good luck with that. Achieving high on-road and off-road mobility in a single platform will be challenging, and overreaching requirements were part of what set the FCS program on such a bad trajectory early on. At least the Army is not trying again to shoehorn the thing into a Hercules. In this context, the lengthy development period signals a problem: the Army is tacitly admitting that it has no idea how to combined the speed of wheels with the traction of tracks. With so little clarity, it’s a fair question just how heavy or agile the vehicle needs to be, or how many it will buy. In theory, the Army could lean anywhere in the spectrum of options from the Stryker up through an infantry carrier version of the Abrams. If this latter options seems outlandish, remember that it’s effectively what Israel Military In- dustries is doing in building the Namer infantry fighting vehicle—on the same chassis as the Merkava IV tank—for the Israeli Army.8 As noted in the section below on ‘Implica- tions for Industry,’ swinging towards either end of the spectrum rather limits the num- ber of vehicles that might go to a contractor other than General Dynamics. If that is counterintuitive, read on. Replace the M113s with something faster, more survivable, and more sus- tainable. As the Congressional Research Service reported in 2007, the Army’s vener- able M113s hardly get driven at all in Iraq: despite recent up-armoring, no one seems to want to ride in them. This is unhelpful for a vehicle to which is assigned so many sup- porting roles in the Army’s heavy brigades. Still, it’s unsurprising for a flat-bottomed, aluminum-hulled vehicle amongst potential minefields, and it’s also quite analogous to the British Army’s experience with even its up-armored ‘Bulldog’ version of the similar The Armies After FCS © Hasik Analytic LLC 4 28 December 2009 6 Chavanne, op. cit. 7 Kris Osborn, “Speakes: Huge transitions ahead for force,” Army Times, 12 October 2009. 8 See David Eshel, “Heavyweight Champ: Israelʼs Namer IFV packs a powerful wallop,” Defense Technol- ogy International, December 2009, pp. 40–42.
  7. 7. and equally venerable FV430. After spending £149 million to upgrade 900 of the vehi- cles, the Ministry of Defense withdrew them from service a few months ago after their less than stellar performance against explosive threats in Afghanistan.9 The problems do not stop there: even the latest M113A3s lack enough onboard power for modern communications and networking equipment. M113s are already being replaced by RG33 and MaxxPro MRAPs in the ambulance role, largely because the older tracked vehicles were too slow for speedy delivery of wounded to field hospitals.10 For what comes next, the range of options remains wide open. There are four leading candidates for what follows: ✦ MRAPs provide an option if the Army is looking to economize, as its budget may so indicate. MRAPs already serve as ambulances (see above) and engineering vehicles, so their convertibility has been clearly demonstrated. Presumably they will continue to be upgraded with Oshkosh’s TAK-4 suspension system for better off-road mobility.11 The downside is that while the MRAPs would offer better mine protection than any other option, they would, even with the TAK-4, fall short of even the off- road mobility of Strykers. ✦ Strykers (the US Army’s version of the LAV-III) were the Army's preferred solution last year, which would place those vehicles in its heavy brigades for the first time. The production line is running, and General Dynamics and the Army already have a large supply chain devoted to supporting them in the actual Stryker brigades. LAV- IIIs offer higher road speed than any armored vehicle in the heavy brigades today, good internal volume, and demonstrated adaptability (in over a dozen land forces around the world, including the Canadian Army) to a wide range of roles. Their two chief disadvantages are their lower off-road mobility, which makes an uncertain match to that of the Abrams, Bradleys, and Paladins of the heavy brigades, and the expense, which could seem high for utility vehicles. ✦ Turretless Bradleys had thus been put forth as a candidate in these roles by BAE Systems. The primary disadvantages are the operating cost of a 30-ton tracked vehi- cle,which would be high for utility roles, and the already demonstrated vulnerability to mines. That said, thousands of Bradleys, left over from the Cold War, are sitting in storage at the Red River Army Depot in Texas, potentially awaiting conversion, so the manufacturing cost would be low. The Bradley’s cross-country mobility is also impressive, and presence of so many of the M2 and M3 fighting versions of the Brad- The Armies After FCS © Hasik Analytic LLC 5 28 December 2009 9 David Robertson and Michael Evans, "MoD spent £149m on troop carriers unfit for service," The Times, 23 November 2009. 10 Jerry Harben, “MRAP ambulances provide protection, 'Rolling ERs',” Armed Forces Press Service, January 2005. 11 The Army and Marines are already upgrading 2,500 RG33s and Cougars with the TAK-4. See Paul McLeary, “Ramping up All-Terrain MRAPs,” Defense Technology International, December 2009, p. 27.
  8. 8. ley in the rest of the heavy brigades’ structure would offer the simplified logistics of parts commonality. Of course, this advantage falls away quickly if the Army proceeds with its plan to replace the Bradley with the forthcoming GCV (see above), so we have not heard much about it recently. ✦ Turretless GCVs, then, would be the analogous option if the GCV program continue on track. The GCV will presumably be much more expensive than an MRAP or an M113, but here are certain close support roles, such as mortar carrier, in which this potentially heavy-but-mobile platform would be preferred. Of course, in the case of the mortar variant specifically, the vehicles may actually be turreted, with a weapon like Patria-Hägglunds’ Advanced Mortar System (AMOS). The comparative issue of off-road mobility calls out a stark contrast between today’s MRAP and the possible GCV. While truck-bound logistics trains must move largely by road, even behind tracked units, closer support is frequently desired from mortar, sur- veillance, and engineering units. It’s reasonable to speculate, then, that the M113A3s may be replaced not by a single type of vehicle, but several. Despite the Army’s once- stated preference for Strykers, a reasonable possibility could be found in splitting the duties between GCVs in closer combat roles (such as that of mortar carrier) and MRAPs in the service roles further to the rear. Upgrade the M1A2 SEPs into M1A3s. What’s perhaps most clear amongst the les- sons of the past decade is how there remains a continuing if considerably reduced role for heavy armor. The early days of the FCS program featured heady enthusiasm for re- placing the Abrams with a vehicle that would somehow combine its firepower and sur- vivability with air-portability in a C-130 Hercules. This may yet prove a disconcerting foreshadowing of the Army’s present ambition for combining off-road and on-road mo- bility. For in this earlier case, after relearning the laws of physics, the Army’s leadership left the dream behind, and resolved to do what so many other land forces around the world are doing: to upgrade its heaviest and most expensive vehicles from the Cold War one more time, and in ways relevant to the post-Cold War battlefield. The precise parameters of the latest proposed version of the Abrams tank, the M1A3, are still being worked out, but certain to be included are a more powerful onboard genera- tor, for supporting more power-hungry networking and defensive systems, and a form of the Tank Urban Survival Kit (TUSK), which has proven so handy in Iraq. An autoloader for the 120 mm main gun is another possibility; the mobile gun version of the Stryker has one for its 105 mm weapon. Some significant assemblies on each vehicle could be selectively replaced with more advanced materials to try to reduce the weight of what is already the world’s heaviest heavy tank. The current notion is to finish the design by 2014 and to begin putting vehicles into the force by 2017.12 The Armies After FCS © Hasik Analytic LLC 6 28 December 2009 12 Kris Osborn, “Army looking into lighter Abrams tank,” Army Times, 28 September 2009.
  9. 9. Upgrade the Strykers, and buy more. Some years ago, as the FCS MGV effort was getting underway with lots of viewgraphs and not much steel, the more clever observers in the industry were calling the Stryker “the real future combat system”, in part because its attributes lined up well with the likely future of combat. Appropriately, the evolution of the LAV series has by no means ended. General Dynamics showed its "Super Stryker" version at this year’s Association of the United States Army (AUSA) exhibition, and that vehicle offered some compelling options: higher ground clearance, a slight v-shaping to the hull, and a remote 25 mm cannon. The latter feature brings the firepower up to the Canadian and New Zealander standard, while allowing for either two extra seats inside, or a surveillance mast like that carried by the Canadian LAV-II Coyotes. The Army seems committed to the Stryker broadly, announcing recently that it would be converting another two heavy brigades to Strykers in the next few years, for at least eight brigades in the Regular Army, and 56th Brigade in the Pennsylvania National Guard. Perhaps just as importantly, the Army recently awarded a $203 million contract to General Dynamics to develop yet more upgrades for the Stryker, and to demonstrate them in a prototype vehicle.13 Plans include ■ upgrading the suspension system and driveline, and adding larger tires and a new braking system to bring the total allowable weight up to 60,000 pounds; ■ a new 450 horsepower diesel engine to pull all that weight (the current engine puts out just 350); and ■ a new digital architecture for follow-on C4ISR systems. With this contract award, the Army is clearly demonstrating enduring commitment to the vehicle. Of course, with two of its seven Stryker brigades currently fighting in Iraq, and another doing so in Afghanistan, the service is already relying very heavily on the fleet and the concept behind it. Thus, for all the talk of future tracked vehicles, there is cause to wonder. Retain the Paladin for now, and possibly upgrade it. Linda Hudson, CEO of BAE Systems North America, told Bloomberg in October that the Army has asked the company for a new prototype of the M109-series armored howitzer, with the autoloader that the company had developed for the now-terminated FCS Non Line of Sight Cannon (NLOS-C) vehicle.14 That's a clever idea, as it drops the crew size from five to two, and enables the remaining crew to put multiple rounds on the same target with trajectory shaping. All the same, the whole future of tracked self-propelled howitzers is a bit bleak. Almost no country other than Australia is committing to new purchases, as the substi- tutes—wheeled self-propelled howitzers, towed howitzers, and guided rockets—are rela- tively inexpensive and reasonable alternatives. Each offers features—such as higher road The Armies After FCS © Hasik Analytic LLC 7 28 December 2009 13 “GD to Modernize Stryker Family of Vehicles,” General Dynamics press release, 4 December 2009. 14 See “Carter Formally Terminates Army's NLOS Cannon, Promises Thorough Vehicle Review,” Defense Alert, 8 December 2009.
  10. 10. speed, air-portability, or unmanned operation—unavailable in a weapon like the Pala- din, PzH2000, or AS90 Braveheart. Indeed, the Army has already committed to buying more M777s towed howitzers to keep pace with the addition of Stryker brigades, and a lot of Netfires guided rockets-in-boxes for all its infantry brigades. So, while it’s a rea- sonable idea, it’s not entirely clear that the Paladin upgrade project will proceed. Implications for Industry At the first level, there is an overall theme to observe in the Army’s emerging plans: ■ buy new vehicles from Oshkosh, ■ upgrade the vehicles from General Dynamics, ■ maintain a modest but steady strain of orders from Force Protection, ■ mostly replace the vehicles from BAE Systems, ■ mostly ignore everyone else, but ■ dangle a big prize with the GCV. In terms of the actual impact on the companies in question, this characterization is not quite fair, for meaningful details appear with just a little more analysis. Oshkosh is, all the same, the obvious big winner here. The surge into Afghanistan puts the company that designed and is now building the M-ATV armored truck in line for a rough doubling of its sales of armored vehicles. Assuming that its contract for the Fam- ily of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTVs) survives the protest with the Government Ac- countability Office, Oshkosh Corporation would appear to be the dominate the military market in the US. With the contracts for the HEMTT, HETS, PLS, CBT, MTVR, and LMSR programs from the Army and the Marines already, Oshkosh is basically the Pen- tagon’s truck-builder of choice. General Dynamics clearly wins with a long (and relatively safe) plan for upgrades of the well-liked Stryker and Abrams vehicles. Renewed commitment by the Army to the Abrams tank, however, shouldn’t quite lead shareholders in General Dynamics to rejoice with abandon. The whole requirement for heavy tanks has dropped precipitously in most allied countries, with the armies of some smaller powers like Australia, the Czech Republic, and Denmark opting to keep but a single battalion. With this further drop in the number of heavy brigades, by the end of 2011 the Regular Army will have a pure fleet of M1A2 System Enhancement Package (SEP) tanks, with only the National Guard re- taining the M1A1 Abrams Integrated Management package (AIM) tanks. While that will still leave the US Army with a force of over 1,100 heavy tanks—and the Marine Corps with its own fleet of about 400 M1A1s—it’s considerably fewer than just a few years ago. Force Protection retains what seemingly will be a long-term relationship with the Army for the heaviest of its MRAPs, and as such, probably a secure position in that niche—if a multi-hundred million dollar market is a niche. The Marine Corps appears to The Armies After FCS © Hasik Analytic LLC 8 28 December 2009
  11. 11. have made a similar implicit choice with Force Protection’s Cougar, enhanced with Osh- kosh’s TAK-4 suspension system, as its interim wheeled transport for the infantry, at least until its Marine Personnel Carriers arrive in the next few years. BAE Systems has an immediate bright spot in the RG33, which is clearly the Army’s preferred heavy blast-protected vehicle. As we note below, however, there is more to this story. Textron is the biggest question mark amongst current armored vehicle suppliers in the US. The Army has purchased about 1,800 armored Security Vehicles (ASVs) from Tex- tron for the Military Police, and has been sufficiently enthused about the vehicle’s role in convoy security to send several hundred of them to Afghanistan for service with the in- fantry. What’s unclear is whether an inflow of 10,000 M-ATVs—a vehicle with demon- strably better blast-protection and off-road mobility—will crowd out interest in retain- ing the ASVs over the long haul. Still, Textron is ambitious: while the company has no experience in heavy tracked vehicles, it recently announced its intent to bid on further build-to-print production in the Israeli Army’s Namer program.15 Whoever lands the GCV contract is quite likely the big winner of the next decade. What’s unclear today is who’s advantaged. As the Army is already committed to a devel- opmental upgrade program for its (at least) seven brigades of wheeled Strykers, a tracked vehicle may seem more likely. If the particulars of the GCV RFP do indeed lean that way, BAE Systems and General Dynamics may be relatively advantaged. BAE Sys- tems has long experience with tracked troop carriers in the US with the M113 and Brad- ley programs. Perhaps more significantly, both companies have more recent experience through European operations with the the CV90 (at Hägglunds in Sweden) and the AS- COD (at Steyr in Austria and Santa Bárbara in Spain). At risk of repetition, the trouble with the tracked approach, to paraphrase Marko Ramius, is that the flat bottoms and sides of all the tracked vehicle designs on the mar- ket don’t react well to blast energy. One option, like IMI’s aforementioned Namer and its earlier Achzarit, and Omsk Transmash’s BTR-T, is to build a tracked infantry carrier from the chassis of a heavy tank. Granted, even Abrams have been destroyed by road- side bombs, and at least one was famously taken hors de combat by a dual-warhead rocket-propelled grenade.16 That said, the vulnerability of vehicles like these is clearly less than that of tracked vehicles of half their weight or less. Even if tanks’ bottoms and sides are flat, there’s a lot of armor there to absorb the blast or weather the super-hot extruding metal of a shaped charge. The Armies After FCS © Hasik Analytic LLC 9 28 December 2009 15 Barbara Opall-Rome, "Israel Seeks U.S. Help for Troop Carrier," Defense News, 14 December 2009. Further Namers after the first several battalion sets will be assembled by a US contractor. The Israeli government would like to use US military assistance funds for the program, and these require US sourcing. 16 Frank Vizard, “Where's the Shining Armor? New technology aims to better protect soldiers and vehicles in Iraq,” Scientific American, 26 July 2004.
  12. 12. Should the requirements call for an extremely well-protected vehicle, it is just conceiv- able that General Dynamics could bid an M1 IFV, and assume the mantle of commonal- ity with the rest of the Abrams in the heavy brigades. However, heavier vehicles—and particularly the Abrams—are necessarily more expensive, and of limited suitability in counterinsurgency. Buying into such a program could very well mean buying few- er—possibly only as many as were needed to match every tank battalion with a battalion of tank-borne infantry. Other than mortar and assault engineering roles, a very heavy infantry fighting vehicle may prove too costly and unsupportable as a replacement for the large number of M113s in support roles throughout those heavy brigades and other supporting formations. Thus, suppliers of wheeled armored vehicles could be advantaged in the US market over the long haul if the particulars lean towards a wheeled solution, or towards a very heavy tracked solution. The first logical winner could be General Dynamics, which would find an opening for pitching many more (Super?) Strykers to make up the gap in motoriza- tion of the mechanized infantry. The second relative winner could be BAE Systems, the Army’s apparently preferred provider of MRAP transporters, which could very well take up utility roles from M113s . The third could be Oshkosh, which would probably subse- quently sell a good many TAK-4 suspension kits to improve the off-road mobility of those vehicles. There remains one dark horse candidate worth mentioning for the GCV role. If the Army were not so committed to another bet-the-farm, long-cycle developmental program at a contractor based in the US (as in the FCS model), one could rule out a bid of a version of the Puma infantry fighting vehicle from the PSM consortium of Krauss-Maffei Weg- mann and Rheinmetall. The Puma is advertised as offering “the highest possible protec- tion in conjunction with guaranteed air transportability.”17 At 43 tons fully loaded, it has enough steel underneath to withstand some fairly impressive mine blasts, but with the removal of some modular armor, it squeezes onto an A400M, and with a bit more com- fort, a C-17. The vehicle also already features a remote turret with both antitank missiles and a 30 mm cannon with the option for air-bursting rounds that bracket soft targets with shrapnel from both sides. It’s a big footprint, but the level of protection afforded in a military-off-the-shelf (MOTS) package is impressive. Separately, General Dynamics’ ASCOD vehicles—the Pi- zarro in Spain and the Uhlan in Austria—are considered an impressive option, and BAE Systems Hägglunds CV90 vehicles are almost a European standard, with fleets operat- ing in Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. All this could lead one to question why the US Army needs yet another developmental program to meet broadly the same requirement, so soon after its last one went so poorly. The Armies After FCS © Hasik Analytic LLC 10 28 December 2009 17 Quote from Rheinmetallʼs website, accessed on 8 December 2009.
  13. 13. Implications for the Canadian Army Still, with all this activity south of the border, can Canada’s Army find some way to benefit? Quite possibly. Three aspects of the land forces modernization plan outlined by the Department of National Defence relate to the US Army’s plans: A new Close Combat Vehicle (CCV). For a time, the DND wanted to move expedi- tiously with its planned C$2.2 billion project for up to 138 tracked infantry carriers, though political support is yet to align with this intent.18 As whatever would be chosen for the non-developmental CCV would have a projected weight of 30 to 45 tons, vehicles like the ASCOD, the Puma, and the CV90 have been discussed throughout the Canadian press as likely options. This last vehicle has been particularly well spoken of, with its aforementioned large installed base throughout NATO and Partnership for Peace coun- tries, and positive experiences with Swedish and Norwegian troops in combat in Af- ghanistan. With respect to US assistance, the problem is that despite the similarity in acronyms, the development of a GCV in the United States is not likely to be helpful, as the first ve- hicles are not projected to be available until at least 2017. Canadian combat troops may be withdrawing from Afghanistan in 2011, but if history serves as any guide, Canadian troops will continue to meet Canada’s commitment to collective security elsewhere in the world, and shortly thereafter. They just won’t do it, in all likelihood, with an American-designed vehicle. LAV-III modernization. The biggest win for Canada is potentially in the US Army’s resounding vote to continue funding General Dynamics upgrades of the Stryker version of the LAV-III. All of the features of the so-called Super Stryker demonstrator and the US Army’s more recent contract request could be of interest to the Canadian Army. To reiterate, these are ■ higher ground clearance and slight v-shaping to the hull ■ a remote 25 mm cannon turret ■ new suspension, new drivetrain, new brakes, and larger tires ■ a 450 horsepower diesel engine, and ■ a new digital architecture for follow-on C4ISR systems. Together, these improvements would increase passenger capacity from seven to nine, improve battlefield connectivity, and increase the vehicle’s maximum weight (presuma- bly without loss of mobility) to 30 short tons—which could permit the addition of quite a bit of modular armor. Much of the work will be paid for by the US DoD, which will allow The Armies After FCS © Hasik Analytic LLC 11 28 December 2009 18 Sharon Hobson, “Canadian Army seeks to accelerate Close Combat Vehicle project,” Janeʼs Defense News, 23 November 2009; and David Pugliese, “Armoured vehicles purchase hits Defence Department speed bump,” Ottawa Citizen, 17 December 2009.
  14. 14. the Canadian DND to focus its relatively scarcer development funds on projects of par- ticularly Canadian importance. A new Tactical armored Patrol Vehicle (TAPV). The Canadian Army also plans to acquire, starting in 2012, some 200 reconnaissance and 300 utility TAPVs, with an option for a further hundred. The former vehicle will carry either a remote or manned turret, and the latter definitely a remote one.19 The program is intended to replace both the LAV-II Coyote and the RG31, and the successful bidder, it is said, will bring a family of MOTS vehicles. The list of candidates just from the US is long: Oshkosh’s M-ATV immediately springs to mind, but so do BAE Systems’ Valanx and Force Protection’s Cheetah, and several other vehicles designed for the M-ATV and Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) programs could be very competitive as well. In short, the Canadian Army should have the pick of the litter. The rub here is that while the recce vehicle need carry only a crew of four, the utility ve- hicle must carry four passengers and three crew. That’s one more crewman than is common in patrol vehicles, though it’s easily accommodated by the Army’s current RG31 armored patrol vehicles. Still, DND insistence on this requirement could limit competition somewhat. Notably, the entry for the JLTV competition from Texton, Boe- ing, and SAIC featured a centerline steering wheel with three seats in front. In all prob- ability, any of the other aforementioned vehicles could be stretched to add an additional seat or two aft; alternatively, the Army may find itself looking at slightly larger vehicles, like KMW’s Dingo 2 or Thales Australia’s Bushmaster. If there is advice, then, to offer people in the Pearkes Building, it comes in three parts: ✦ The US GCV program is too far away and indeterminate to be of much use to better- defined and near-term Canadian needs. Since procurement and staff offers aren’t in plentiful supply for liaison to an incidental interest, little attention should be paid. ✦ The Stryker upgrade program, however is very interesting, as it is potentially very beneficial to the Army. Its parameters have already largely been established, so fol- lowing its course and requesting release of the relevant technical details to General Dynamics’ facilities in Ontario is a straightforward, if demanding, liaison job. ✦ The open management question lies with the TAPV program. With so much recent development work in the US, Canadian needs can almost assuredly be met with a MOTS vehicle, as long as stated requirements accommodate the state of the indus- try’s offerings. Understanding the details of the market calls for a well-crafted re- The Armies After FCS © Hasik Analytic LLC 12 28 December 2009 19 “Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicle,” Department of National Defence/Canadian Forces background pa- per, 8 July 2009
  15. 15. quest for information (RFI), which is the province of a well-educated procurement officer attuned to commercial sensibilities. If this is indeed all managed well, the Canadian Army could find itself in a few years with the most strategically appropriate and tactically valuable fleet of combat vehicles that it has had in decades, and for a very reasonable cost. The Armies After FCS © Hasik Analytic LLC 13 28 December 2009