General Dynamics Land Systems this month has delivered two Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) preproduction vehicles to the U.S. Army, and two more will be delivered by the end of December.
These four vehicles complete the requirement of 12 MPF preproduction vehicles that General Dynamics Land Systems was contracted to produce as part of the Army’s ongoing competition. The previous eight vehicles are undergoing Army and internal testing.
This month’s deliveries come on time to support the Army’s Soldier Vehicle Assessment, despite the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
«General Dynamics has listened to the Army, fully understanding its requirements, and worked closely with program management office throughout this fast-paced effort to deliver systems on time to meet programmed test schedules», said Don Kotchman, Vice President and General Manager of General Dynamics Land Systems U.S. «We are pleased to be able to deliver this capability to the U.S. Army, despite the global pandemic. Our MPF offering is a highly lethal, mobile and survivable direct-fire combat vehicle that can dominate ground threats on the multi-domain battlefield».
General Dynamics Land Systems’ MPF approach leverages both recently developed and battle-tested designs. The highly advanced and powerful combat vehicle is designed to strengthen the Army’s Infantry Brigade Combat Teams.
Land Systems is a business unit of General Dynamics (GD). General Dynamics Land Systems provides innovative design, engineering, technology, production and full life-cycle support for land combat vehicles around the globe. The company’s extensive experience, customer-first focus and seasoned supply chain network provide unmatched capabilities to the U.S. military and its allies.
General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS), a business unit of General Dynamics (GD), was awarded a $1.219 billion contract to produce, test and deliver Interim Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense (IM-SHORAD) systems to the U.S. Army. The Army’s initial order on the contract calls for 28 Stryker IM-SHORAD vehicles for $230 million.
«General Dynamics and our teammates Leonardo DRS and Raytheon are pleased to be able to partner with the Army to bring this powerful capability to U.S. Soldiers», said Don Kotchman, Vice President and General Manager of GD Land Systems. «This dedicated SHORAD capability adds a new operational dimension to the Stryker fleet in all of the Army’s maneuver formations».
The IM-SHORAD is designed to counter threats from Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and a multitude of other Rotary and Fixed Wing aircraft, and provides a common Army platform that is cost-effective, highly mobile, survivable, sustainable and transportable.
Stryker continues to be a highly sought platform beyond the Stryker Brigade Combat Team formations.
Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of September, 30, 2025. GD Land Systems has production locations in Tallahassee, Florida; Scranton, Pennsylvania; London, Ontario; Lima, Ohio; and Anniston, Alabama.
Headquartered in Sterling Heights, Michigan, General Dynamics Land Systems provides innovative design, engineering, technology, production and full life-cycle support for land combat vehicles around the globe. The company’s extensive experience, customer-first focus and seasoned supply chain network provide unmatched capabilities to the U.S. military and its allies.
The U.S. Army has selected General Dynamics Land Systems to produce the Small Multipurpose Equipment Transport, or S-MET, to lighten Soldiers’ loads by providing Infantry Brigade Combat Teams a robotic «mule» capability.
The contract is valued at $162.4 million to produce 624 S-METs. Delivery to Soldiers begins in the second quarter of Fiscal Year 2021.
With the S-MET (pronounced «Ess-Met») program, a phased, quicker acquisition plan allowed the Army to make informed program decisions based on direct Soldier feedback on commercially available technology – fielding equipment faster than typical processes allow.
S-MET’s basic operational capabilities include:
Unmanned/optionally manned system;
Carries 1,000 lbs./453.6 kg, reducing Soldier weight burden by 100-plus pounds each when in support of a rifle squad;
Operates 60-plus miles/96.5-plus km in 72 hours;
Generates 3 kilowatts of power (stationary) and 1 kilowatt (moving) keeping equipment and batteries charged on the move.
The Army issued a directed requirement in April 2017 for a rapid materiel acquisition aimed at unburdening infantry brigade combat teams with a robotic capability. To fast-track the acquisition process, the Army’s Program Executive Office for Combat Support & Combat Service Support, awarded S-MET Phase I Other Transaction Authority (OTA) agreements (vs. traditional Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR)-based contracting methods) in June 2017 for eight platforms.
The S-MET program marks one of the Army’s first Middle Tier Acquisitions (MTA) for Rapid Fielding. This acquisition approach foregoes the traditional Department of Defense 5000.02 acquisition process, streamlining the delivery and fielding of capabilities within a period of five years. Use of the MTA approach was granted by Congress in the Fiscal Year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act Section 804.
«The S-MET program has focused on meeting the Army’s emphasis on enhancing Soldier lethality and rapidly fielding modernized capabilities. Our product management team for Applique and Large Unmanned Ground Systems undertook a great challenge to develop a strategy using experimentation and technical demonstrations to streamline the S-MET acquisition process», said Timothy G. Goddette, the Army’s program executive officer for Combat Support and Combat Service Support.
«Using an innovative contracting approach through an Other Transaction Authority, a flexible, collaborative tool designed to speed acquisition and modernization, the S-MET team awarded this capability within two and a half years. Using normal acquisition processes, it could have taken as much as five years», he explained.
The initial candidate platforms participated in the S-MET Phase I Assessment held in September 2017 at Fort Benning, Georgia. The evaluation enabled the Army to learn about each of the candidate platforms’ capabilities and obtain operational feedback based on Soldiers’ interactions with the candidate S-MET systems. Based on the results in November 2017, the Army narrowed to four contractors to evaluate their respective platforms during a 12-month (later reduced to seven-month) S-MET Phase II Technology Demonstration.
Phase II called for each of the four selected contractors to produce 20 platforms. Four of the produced S-METs supported safety testing, Commercial-Off-the-Shelf operator manual verification, Instructor and Key Personnel Training, and Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTPs) development. Upon completion of safety testing, the Product Management Office for Applique and Large Unmanned Systems issued eight of each respective prototype S-METs to IBCTs within the 10th Mountain and the 101st Airborne Divisions in the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2019 for the seven-month Phase II Technology Demonstration. Results from the Technology Demonstration informed program decisions and further solidified S-MET TTPs.
Dismounted Infantry carry water, extra ammunition, and other equipment and gear imposing physical burden. When fielded, S-MET will unburden Soldiers and enable IBCTs to travel greater distances and carry more. Soldier experimentation, touch points, and evaluation has been key in obtaining direct warfighter feedback.
«Thanks to tremendous teamwork across the acquisition, requirements, operational, and resource communities, this is a great modernization success story», said Don Sando, director for the Maneuver Capabilities Development and Integration Directorate, Fort Benning. «Key to this success was involving Soldiers early in the process to get their input and feedback during experiments and assessments. Direct Soldier feedback drove the requirements for the S-MET, and certainly helped determine what systems would work best for IBCTs to fill a capability gap», Sando added.
This enhanced, modernized capability will unburden Soldiers of some of their physical load, thereby also improving Soldiers’ physical and cognitive capabilities. Future capability will feature modular mission payloads tailoring the S-MET to specific mission needs, such as dismounted engineer mobility systems; remote weapon stations; casualty evacuation; and unmanned aerial systems and reconnaissance.
«Getting a modernized capability into the hands of IBCT Soldiers has been the team’s driving focus throughout this program», said Lieutenant Colonel Jon Bodenhamer, the Army’s product manager for Applique and Large Unmanned Ground Systems within the Program Executive Office for Combat Support & Combat Service Support. «Soldiers are why we do what we do, and I’m incredibly proud of the hard-working team that brought us to this point».
General Dynamics Land Systems – UK has begun the industry manned live firing phase of the AJAX programme, with the CTA International 40-mm (CT40) cannon.
The five-month trial, which started in early September and takes place at ranges in West Wales, will test the CT40 cannon, Chain Gun and Smoke Grenade Launchers.
AJAX is fitted with instrumentation to record all aspects of the firing of the CT40 cannon and Chain Gun, including lethality performance. Testing will progress from a static vehicle firing on a static target, to a moving vehicle firing on a moving target. The testing is being conducted by General Dynamics Land Systems – UK, the turret developer (Lockheed Martin UK), and with the Ministry of Defence observing.
Over the last 18 months, General Dynamics Land Systems–UK has completed significant unmanned firing of the CT40 cannon and Chain Gun, which provided the assurance needed to begin the manned firing phase of the programme.
Defence Minister Harriett Baldwin said: «The AJAX programme is sustaining hundreds of jobs in Wales, as well as thousands right across the UK, and a lot of hard work has gone into reaching this manned live firing phase».
Kevin Connell, Vice President of General Dynamics Land Systems – UK, said: «The start of the CT40 cannon manned industry firing phase is a significant milestone in the AJAX programme. This cutting-edge capability that enables AJAX to pack a significant punch, alongside its wide-range of best-in-class sensors that makes it an Information Age platform, ensures that the British Army has everything they need to do their job effectively».
In recent months, General Dynamics Land Systems – UK has successfully completed a broad spectrum of AJAX programme trials across its different prototype platforms. These include altitude-climatic trials, air deployability trials, littoral fording trials and driver training trials.
The range of AJAX variants will allow British Army ‘Strike Brigades’ to conduct sustained, expeditionary, full-spectrum and network-enabled operations with a reduced logistics footprint. They will operate in combined-arms and multinational situations across a wide-range of future operating environments.
General Dynamics Land Systems, a business unit of General Dynamics (GD), recently received two contract awards from the U.S. Army for Abrams main battle tank upgrades, which will boost the platform’s capabilities and help the Army lead the way into the future.
The company will design, develop and integrate multiple engineering changes into the Abrams M1A2 System Enhancement Package Version 3 (SEPv3), creating a SEPv4 and further modernizing the tanks. Abrams main battle tanks are produced at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima, Ohio.
The first contract is for SEPv4 upgrades, which include the Commander’s Primary Sight (formerly known as the Commander’s Independent Thermal Viewer), an improved Gunner’s Primary Sight and enhancements to sensors, lethality and survivability. General Dynamics Land Systems will deliver seven prototype M1A2 SEPv4 tanks to the Army. The contract has an initial value of $311 million. Work will be performed in Sterling Heights, Michigan; Lima; Scranton, Pennsylvania; and Tallahassee, Florida.
The second award was a $270 million contract from the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Command to produce 45 Abrams M1A2 SEPv3 tanks. The first pilot vehicles, which feature technological advancements in communications, reliability, sustainment and fuel efficiency and upgraded armor, are expected to roll off the production line in fall 2017. Work will be performed in Lima, Scranton, Tallahassee and Anniston, Alabama.
General Dynamics Land Systems provides innovative design, engineering, technology, production and full life-cycle support for land combat vehicles around the globe. The company’s extensive experience, customer-first focus and seasoned supply chain network provide unmatched capabilities to the U.S. military and its allies.
General Dynamics Land Systems – Canada has been awarded a CA$404 million contract amendment by the Government of Canada to upgrade 141 Light Armoured Vehicle (LAV) III vehicles.
The upgrades will enhance the performance and survivability of these Canadian designed and manufactured vehicles. It also ensures the consistency and availability of equipment for training and deployments. In addition, having a fleet of LAVs of largely the same configuration reduces long-term maintenance costs.
The LAV III Upgrade program delivers vehicles in the new LAV 6.0 configuration. It is the direct result of lessons learned by the Canadian Army in Afghanistan, and was developed with substantial inputs from the Government of Canada. The upgrades include the life-saving double-V hull, protection and mobility enhancements, onboard vetronics and capacity for future growth and modularity.
«We are committed to delivering highly protected, flexible and capable vehicles to our soldiers and the LAV 6.0 provides the Canadian Army with best-in-class protection and mobility», said Danny Deep, vice president of General Dynamics Land Systems – Canada. «This announcement is welcome news to the London area and to our suppliers across Canada whose jobs will be sustained with this additional work».
In October 2011, the Government of Canada awarded General Dynamics Land Systems – Canada a CA$1.064 billion contract to incorporate a comprehensive upgrade package into 550 of the Canadian Army’s fleet of LAV III combat vehicles and extends their life to 2035.
This contract sustains approximately 250 highly skilled jobs in advanced manufacturing in the London, Ontario, region. In addition, it will be of direct economic benefit to General Dynamics’ extensive supplier network located across Canada.
General Dynamics Land Systems – Canada is a defence industry leader in land and amphibious systems development and integration. Based in London, Ontario, the Canadian operations employs more than 2,000 people in the design, manufacture and support of light- and medium-armoured vehicles, and are specialists in machining, materials, electronics, software development, prototyping, logistics support and systems integration.
The first prototype Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle, outfitted with a MCT-30-mm cannon, was delivered to the Army Thursday, October 27, 2016. The upgraded Stryker vehicle will be known as the Dragoon, the name of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, and the Army recently assigned the nomenclature XM1296 Infantry Carrier Vehicle – Dragoon.
The upgrade includes the integration of a Kongsberg MCT-30-mm Weapon System with a remotely-operated, unmanned turret; a new fully-integrated commander’s station, upgraded driveline componentry and hull modifications, according to a Program Executive Office Ground Combat Systems (PEO-GCS) press release.
«It’s important to realize the genesis of this event», said Army Vice Chief of Staff General Daniel B. Allyn, speaking at the General Dynamics Land Systems Maneuver Collaboration Center in Sterling Heights, Michigan.
Following the 2015 Russian invasion of Ukraine, Army leaders in Europe «identified a capability gap that threatened our forces in theater», Allyn explained. «The Russians, it turns out, had upgraded and fielded significant capabilities while we were engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan». Army leaders recognized that existing Stryker weaponry placed U.S. forces at «unacceptable risk», he said.
«The Urgent Operational Needs statement submitted in March 2015 resulted in a directed Stryker lethality requirement, one that included an accelerated acquisition effort to integrate the 30-mm canon on the vehicles», he said.
Fielding to the 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Europe will begin in May 2018, which represents «a near-record time from concept to delivery», according to Allyn. «This is an example of what is possible when government, military and industry leaders unite as one team», he continued, describing the collaboration between General Dynamics Land Systems and the Program Executive Office-Ground Combat Systems.
The goal, he noted, is to offer forces on the ground the best equipment and protection possible. «It’s all about the people on the ground, serving and sacrificing on our behalf, each and every day, around the globe», he said.
According to PEO GCS, the Army has provided programmatic direction to initiate the first two elements of the Stryker Fleet Lethality strategy – providing an under-armor Javelin capability for the Stryker and improving the capabilities of the Stryker Anti-Tank Guided Missile vehicle to better locate and engage targets via networked fires.
«It’s important to know we are a nation at war right now, and our Army remains globally engaged», Allyn said. «Today, over 8,000 Soldiers are in Afghanistan, providing enabling support to an emerging force, fighting a persistent insurgent threat». Nearly 5,000 more are in the Middle East, supporting the fight against the Islamic State, «a ruthless force, intent on destabilizing the region and the globe».
More than 33,000 Soldiers are assigned or allocated to Europe «to assure our allies and to deter a potentially grave threat to freedom», he continued.
Nearly 80,000 are assigned to U.S. Pacific Command, including 20,000 in South Korea, prepared «to respond tonight with our (Republic of Korea) allies», he added.
Supporting the fight around the globe means having the best technologies for Soldiers to ensure overmatch against future adversaries in an increasingly complex and dangerous world where the threat is often «elusive and ambiguous», he said.
This environment will place a premium on unmanned systems, lethal technologies and rapid maneuver capabilities that the new Stryker system exemplifies, Allyn concluded.
The first prototype Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle outfitted with a 30-mm cannon was delivered October 27, 2016 to the Army. Video courtesy of PEO Ground Combat Vehicles
General Dynamics Land Systems-UK is demonstrating EAGLE, the internationally field-proven military vehicle, at DVD2016. In partnership with General Dynamics European Land Systems, General Dynamics Land Systems-UK has submitted EAGLE for the UK’s Multi Role Vehicle – Protected (MRV-P) programme.
EAGLE provides high protection and mobility on- or off-road. It is available in a range of 4×4 and 6×6 configurations and can fulfill roles such as Armoured Personnel Carrier, Ambulance, Recovery, Command, Reconnaissance and Logistics. EAGLE provides logistics commonality across its range of variants, offering lower maintenance and lifecycle costs.
EAGLE is an established product with more than 1,200 in-service with the German, Swiss and Danish Armies. In service with the British Army, there are more than 200 highly mobile and robust DURO vehicles, which, like EAGLE, are part of General Dynamics´ Light Tactical Vehicle Family. Due to recent contract awards, EAGLE platforms are currently in-production and available now for customer trial programmes.
Kevin Connell, vice president of General Dynamics Land Systems-UK, said: «EAGLE is an established and trusted vehicle that is used widely by European armies. Its range of configurations, alongside its high all-terrain mobility and protection levels, makes it the ideal vehicle to meet the British Army’s MRV-P requirement. General Dynamics’ extensive expertise in the delivery and integration of wheeled military vehicle fleets means that the British Army can receive these vehicles within their desired timescales. In addition, we are committed to maximising the manufacture of these vehicles in the UK and supporting further highly-skilled jobs here in the UK».
General Dynamics Land Systems-UK is currently developing AJAX, the British Army’s first fully-digitised platform. The first AJAX platform will be delivered in 2017 from General Dynamics Land Systems-UK’s Assembly, Integration and Test (AIT) facility in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales.
Worldwide, General Dynamics Land Systems has a long pedigree and experience in delivering tracked and wheeled military vehicles, alongside specialist knowledge in complex, scalable Electronic Architectures. It delivers, amongst others, the Abrams main battle tank, Stryker and the Cougar Mine Resistant Ambush – Protected (MRAP) family of vehicles.
When Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan were imperiled by the destructive power of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), a variant of the armored Stryker combat vehicle sporting a specially-designed blast-diffusing hull saved countless lives.
Particularly suited for transporting infantry in urban environments, the Stryker combat vehicle has become popular among Soldiers in the most dangerous and rugged areas overseas. They know the vehicle to be quiet, reliable, and easy to maintain and repair.
The vehicle’s stellar performance is doubtless related to the extensive evaluation it has undergone at Yuma Proving Ground and its three subsidiary test centers since 2002, including a six-month stint in the jungles of Suriname in 2008. Earlier this year, a new variant of the vehicle wrapped up a winter of extreme use at the Army Cold Regions Test Center.
Boasting an upgraded chassis and drivetrain along with a variety of mechanical, electrical and digital improvements to enhance its performance, the latest Stryker variant was subjected to more than 3,000 miles/4,828 km driving across rugged terrain in extreme cold.
«It looks like a regular Stryker, but it isn’t», said Richard Reiser, test officer. «It has a larger engine that significantly increases horsepower and torque. It has a much greater diagnostic capability that integrates subsystems. This gives operators a greater awareness of vehicle health and potentially improves situational awareness during the actual mission in the vehicle».
In the world’s most frigid environments, cold starts can be harrowing even for the most rudimentary vehicles. For a complex system like the Stryker, each component’s ability to function in extreme cold is crucially important and was subjected to keen evaluation in temperatures far below freezing.
«Like automotive trends in general, we have much greater reliance on computer systems in these vehicles», said Reiser. «Those computer systems and subsystems integrated into the hull depend on a great deal of computer software and hardware».
Though a vehicle’s performance characteristics are similar in cold weather once a vehicle is started and sufficiently warmed up, dramatic fluctuations in temperature can degrade performance of any number of a vehicle’s components.
«Stopping distance and acceleration shouldn’t change profoundly in this environment», explained Reiser. «The real issues tend to be related to rapid temperature differentials. Each sub-zero temperature threshold tends to flush out small anomalies».
Testers went to great lengths to test in potential failure conditions. For example, after a long drive on the range the day before a particularly nasty drop in temperature was forecast, the testers used fans connected to long tubes snaking into the engine compartment and other vital areas of the vehicle to blow frigid air onto the components overnight.
«We adjust to capture things and be ready for those colder temperatures on short notice», said Reiser. «It’s a small crew and it’s easy to make adjustments to the mission profile to take advantage».
Throughout the test, the Army evaluators used the same vehicle that had been subjected to punishing hot weather testing the previous summer at Yuma Test Center, Arizona. Personnel travelled to Yuma to take part in the testing and instrumented the vehicle in a configuration that applied to testing in both climates.
«It provides not only continuity in the instrumentation process, but helped our technician get it done quicker while supporting Yuma’s effort as well», said Reiser.
The test was more than just endless driving. The performances of every special feature the vehicle boasts were scrutinized, from its communications suite to the central tire inflation system that adjusts tire pressure as the vehicle is in motion.
«Cross country miles accumulate slowly in this environment», said Reiser. «We didn’t have consistently cold weather, so we were able to move what sub-test activity we were doing based on its environmental relevance. If it is something that’s not so much impacted by extreme cold, we moved that to the less-cold times».
Soldiers from Fort Wainwright’s 25th Infantry Division also assisted in the testing by entering and exiting hatches of the vehicle while attired in the full complement of armor and Arctic battle dress, ensuring that everything in the vehicle could be reached without snagging their bulky gear.
«It was great coordination between the two tests to pick the appropriate miserable day to get the Soldiers to do some limited ingress-egress testing», said Reiser. «When this vehicle is fielded and the Soldiers have the new body armor, we’ll already know it isn’t an issue for ingress and egress».
The multi-month test was completed ahead of schedule and under budget, which Reiser attributes to the flexibility of the rugged, self-contained six-person crew. The drivers, for instance, were from the testing center’s maintenance shop. They were able to troubleshoot and repair problems that cropped up without lengthy downtime at a maintenance shop many miles from the test range.
«We were able to eliminate delay times when we went into maintenance because maintenance was right here», said Reiser. «If we had a vehicle issue, they just changed hats and researched from a different vantage point what they had to do to solve the problem, which was a huge cost savings».
A live-fire demonstration of weapon systems mounted on a ground mobility vehicle prototype and a light armored vehicle combat reconnaissance vehicle prototype took place on Friday, July 15, at Red Cloud Range on Fort Benning.
The event was sponsored by the Capabilities Development and Integration Directorate Mounted Requirements Division at the Maneuver Center of Excellence, and the General Dynamics Land Systems and General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems.
«We are in an interwar period here. The interwar period is critical because it is a time when you must leverage an opportunity to get ready for the next conflict», said Major General Eric Wesley, commanding general of the Maneuver Center of Excellence. «If you don’t leverage that opportunity you’re throwing away a resource that has strategic implications».
Wesley explained that cooperation between the U.S. Army and industry is paramount to a successful partnership.
«We need to be cooperating and collaborating with industry and that is what you see here today», said Wesley.
Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster, director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center, spoke about the urgency behind the collaboration with the U.S. Army and industry.
«We are facing threats, enemies and adversaries who have watched us very closely in recent years and have adapted their capabilities and developed new capabilities that have resulted in our forces in the future potentially losing our ability to overmatch the enemy in close combat», said McMaster. «What we are endeavoring to do is to ensure that we stay ahead of these determined and adapted enemies».
McMaster stressed that every combat unit has to have the combination of mobility, protection and lethality in order to overmatch the enemy.
«What we need is a combat vehicle that allows that appropriate combination», said McMaster. «Every time you bump into a U.S. Army formation and you’re the enemy, and you make the unwise choice of taking a shot at us, smoke and boots, that is going to be the result on the other end».
The ground mobility vehicle 1.1 prototype fired an M230-LF 30-mm cannon, while the Light Armored Vehicle (LAV) combat reconnaissance vehicle prototype with a Kongsberg turret fired an integrated MK44 30-mm cannon.