The US Army chooses its new “light” tank to reinforce its infantry units

After several failures linked to excessive technological and operational ambitions, the US Army had to, in 2015, urgently initiate an ambitious program for the modernization of its fleet of armored vehicles inherited from the end of the Cold War, such as the heavy tank M1 Abrams, the M2/M3 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, as well as the M113 tracked personnel carrier. After the cancellation of the Ground Combat Vehicle program in 2014, a new program was launched in 2017, called Next Generation Combat Vehicle, with the ambition of replacing the entire US Army tracked fleet. This program consists of the Armored MultiPurpose Vehicle program intended to replace the American M113s with 2.897 tracked armored vehicles whose design and construction had already been awarded to BAE Systems in 2014, the Optionally Manned Combat Vehicle program relating to the replacement of some 5.700 VCI Bradley in service with the US Army, about which a new competition was launched in July 2021 after the failure of the previous one a few months earlier, the Decisive Lethality Platform program which should replace the 5.500 American Abrams heavy tanks, as well as the Mobile Protected Firepower program, aimed at giving back to American infantry units firepower lost since the withdrawal of the M551 Sheridan light tanks in 1997 .

The US Army has now formalized its choice for the MFP program, after a competition between 12 prototypes delivered by the two finalists, BAE, with an evolution of the M8 Buford, a light tank initially developed in the 90s but abandoned in favor of the Stryker wheeled armored vehicle, and General Dynamics Land Systems with an evolution of the Griffin III (in main illustration), also in the running for the OMFV competition. During a press conference, US Army Undersecretary Doug Bush (unrelated, he is an only son and a Democrat, editor's note) confirmed the US Army's choice in favor of the GDLS model. , without much surprise since many echoes since March 2022 have reported the elimination of the M8 Buford from BAE System at the end of the test campaign. The manufacturer is therefore allocated a budget of $1,14 billion to produce and deliver the first 96 armored vehicles out of a total order of 504 units, with a first delivery within just 19 months, and a rapid industrial ramp-up. to reach full production capacity by the end of 2023. The entire fleet should be in service by 2035, at the rate of 42 light tanks per infantry brigade, for a total acquisition budget of 6 billion dollars and a total budget over the life cycle estimated at €17 billion, i.e. a substantial acquisition cost of $12 million per armored vehicle.

THE modernized M8 Buford presented by BAE Systems did not convince the US Army

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