(Washington, D.C.) Armed with heavy firepower, new armor protection, artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled computing, autonomous operational capability, drone operations controls, and next-generation sensors, targeting and mission systems, a new U.S.-specific Lynx Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) variant may be headed toward U.S. production.
Known for their firepower expertise as the producer of the 120 mm smoothbore gun technology used in the well-known Leopard 2 and M1 Abrams Main Battle Tanks (MBT) as well as their work on the Puma Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) Germany-based Rheinmetall is supporting their U.S. vehicle team.
Lynx OMFV Team
Sterling Heights, MI- based American Rheinmetall Vehicles leads an integrated team of U.S. weapon systems developers to engineer a new infantry fighting vehicle tailored specifically to U.S. Army requirements for the now underway OMFV competition. The American Rheinmetall Vehicles (ARV)-led team includes Raytheon Technologies, Textron Systems, L3Harris Technologies and Allison Transmission.
As part of the Lynx team, each of these contributors are tasked with bringing expertise in key areas and leveraging their capabilities in advanced technology and innovation. Some of these approaches include the use of modular and open architecture, systems integration and advanced U.S. development and production of armored vehicles and supporting technologies.
“The advanced technologies and capabilities found in the existing Rheinmetall Lynx KF41 Infantry Fighting Vehicle are merely a starting point from which the team will design and deliver a truly exceptional OMFV solution to the U.S. warfighter,” said Mike Milner, Director, Business Development and Strategy, American Rheinmetall Vehicles.
“We are establishing a modern manufacturing base in the United States to develop and produce an exceptional American- made vehicle,” Milner told The National Interest.
Essentially, the U.S. Lynx OMFV variant is intended to be a substantially new vehicle with the ability to rapidly adapt as modern and contemporary threats emerge and evolve. While each team-member will of course contribute across the spectrum of technological development and integration, particular contributions will obviously draw upon each team-member’s well-known strengths, like Textron Systems’ armored vehicle and robotic expertise
L3Harris’ sensing and mission systems capability, Raytheon’s weapons, computing, sensing and drone integration history and of course Allison transmissions propulsion technologies featured on numerous U.S. combat vehicle platforms.
“With these contributions and the foundational existing Lynx KF41 as a starting point,” Milner said, “the U.S. variant emerges.”
“Though the state-of-the-art Lynx is in production today, the vehicle we deliver for the OMFV competition, and even the initial concept, will be a different vehicle than the Lynx you see in other NATO partner nations and Australia, because our team is laser focused on meeting the U.S. Army’s specific requirements,” he added.
In carrying out this developmental work, Rheinmetall developers explain they will naturally draw upon and evolve their substantial experience in building armored combat vehicles, such as tanks and infantry carriers. Milner did say, “the U.S. Lynx will draw upon some of the most recent innovations and combat vehicle developments in Europe and combine that experience with considerable U.S. expertise.”
There are many facets, plans and technical nuances to the Lynx team’s industrial approach, to include U.S. production and technology development. The project will entail the introduction of a vast number of new U.S. engineering, science and manufacturing jobs, as well as a decided developmental emphasis upon bringing new opportunities in modeling, simulation and digital engineering.
Lynx OMFV Design
The Lynx team has emphasized the need to engineer a vehicle suited for the immediate need of the warfighter and also to optimize the vehicle’s design configuration, sensing, weapons performance and computing technologies to be ready to respond to future threats. The concept, all participants say, is to engineer a vehicle that is ready and easily adaptable for necessary growth with the knowledge that major power adversaries will be moving quickly to try to outpace the U.S., and Lynx must be able to keep up, developers say.
While many of the requirements for the OMFV have yet to be fully refined by the U.S. Army, the Army is known to want an IFV that can incorporate autonomous operation capabilities, launch drones, and employ manned-unmanned command and control teaming opportunities.
“The vehicle will be manned or unmanned based upon particular mission requirements,” Maj. Gen. Ross Coffman, Director of the Army’s Next-Gen Combat Vehicle Cross Functional Team, Army Futures Command, told The National Interest.
While Army developers naturally do not discuss industry specifics or particular offerings as they relate to an of an ongoing competition, Coffman did explain some of the conceptual premises for why manned-unmanned teaming and robotic technologies are expected to be critical to the OMFV program.
“The concept is clear – enable human soldier decision makers operating in a command and control capacity to receive organized, fused and integrated combat data in real time from robots such as the U.S. Army’s Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV) that is under development or something like the OMFV,” Coffman explained in a discussion with The National Interest on OMFV and manned-unmanned teaming.
Unmanned vehicles could carry ammunition, cross bridges into enemy fire, perform forward recon missions to test enemy defenses, coordinate with air attack assets and – when directed by human authorities – destroy enemy targets with mounted weapons. Not only will these kinds of technical steps expand attack options and combat lethality while better protecting soldiers from enemy fire, but they will further disperse or disaggregate advancing forces, bringing additional tactical advantages. The robots, or an unmanned OMFV, could also support dismounted infantry in some cases by traversing rigorous terrain, bringing armored support to advancing ground units.”
Lynx OMFV Raytheon
Raytheon has been involved with the Lynx project for many years now and operates numerous U.S. sites, including, technology development and manufacturing facilities. Specific to its involvement with the Lynx, Raytheon is drawing upon its targeting, sensing, AI and advanced weapons technologies.
“We’re able to leverage our extensive experience with integrating complex mission systems onto platforms, the full sensor to shooter capability, that can help to inform requirements, influence the design, and ultimately shape what will be a next-generation, leap-ahead system for the warfighter,” Brad Barnard, Senior Director, Area Defense Systems, Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle, told The National Interest.
Raytheon, also does a lot of digital engineering with its emerging weapons systems, an approach that will support the ongoing maturation and adaptation of combat requirements. “We can help provide the critical tools and analysis that will support the Army’s desire for requirements refinement and rapid, iterative concept development,” Barnard said.
All members of the team talk about a major ongoing developmental focus for the vehicle, which includes the use of computer simulations and digital engineering, a fast-emerging method of assessing different design models, testing weapons and sensor performance and, perhaps most of all, ensuring continued upgradeability through the use of open technical standards. The idea is to allow for software and hardware upgrades to mission systems such as sensors, processors or fire control systems as new threats arrive. L3 Harris is, not surprisingly, a major contributor to this process.
Lynx OMFV L3 Harris
“As the vehicle evolves, digital engineering will focus upon the impacts that the potential upgrades can have upon mission effectiveness and warfighter safety. A full digital thread allows for that,” Hugh McFadden, Director, Strategy Product Development, L3Harris, said.
L3Harris has long been a leader in command and control, an area of technological focus likely to incorporate L3Harris’ historic participation in numerous software programmable radio developmental programs. Given the crucial role communications will likely play in a vehicle such as OMFV – especially with sensing and manned-unmanned teaming – hardened, secure and technologically advanced RF technologies will certainly figure prominently. This is particularly true in the case of software-defined radio, as it can transmit IP packets of voice, video and data across a meshed network of forces without necessarily needing to rely upon a fixed infrastructure.
Digital engineering has already yielded amazing results with other major weapons development programs, such as the highly secretive Air Force 6th-Generation stealth fighter, hypersonic weapons and the Pentagon’s new ICBM, Ground Based Strategic Deterrent. The process has a fast-increasing ability to replicate technological performance specifics and particular warfare operational scenarios to assist in ongoing development.
“The ability to leverage all of that data during the development lifecycle can let us come back in and optimize its utilization and improve performance in the field. That performance could be in the form of availability, or actual attributes of the system and what it does. And ultimately can also allow us to work through what I would call adaptability, which is defined quick and Innovative ways to extend the capability of the platform once its deployed,” Paul Embry, Senior Scientist, Project Engineering, L3Harris told The National Interest.
Lynx OMFV Allison Transmission
Allison Transmission, which has more than 3 million square feet of manufacturing facilities in the U.S., manufactures transmissions for the Army’s Abrams tank, Mobile Protected Firepower vehicle, Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, and has been manufacturing electric hybrid propulsion systems for commercial markets since 2003.
“We have a large presence in Indiana and the partnership with Team Lynx represents a new product development opportunity that takes advantage of Allison’s considerable manufacturing capability and technical expertise,” Dane Rodgers, Director of New Product Development, Allison Transmission, told The National Interest.
The Lynx will be equipped with Allison’s Next-Generation Electrified Transmission to provide the benefits of reduced detection by the enemy and increased soldier survivability.
“We are not only anticipating new product development opportunities, but we’re talking about a transformation of a workforce that becomes far more digital and allows for faster cycles integrating new capabilities onto the vehicle so they can stay competitive against threats,” Rodgers added.
Lynx OMFV Textron Systems
Building on Rheinmetall’s manufacturing experience, Team Lynx will manufacture the OMFV structure and assemble and test the U.S. Army’s OMFV at the Textron Systems manufacturing facility in Louisiana.
“Our land vehicle production facility in Louisiana, where we have about 158,000 square feet of total manufacturing space with an additional 30,000 square feet of onsite warehousing, has been used to manufacture over 10,000 vehicles. The facility includes end- to- end vehicle testing tailored to meet program requirements.” Clark Lindner, Director of Global Military Sales, Strategy, Textron Systems, told The National Interest.
Known for producing the operational Armored Security Vehicle for the U.S. Army, Textron Systems developers say they are also drawing heavily upon their experience engineering and manufacturing unmanned aerial systems such as the Shadow ® for the U.S. Army and more recently, their participation in the RCV Medium program. Naturally, the RCV Medium program is heavily focused upon autonomy and manned-unmanned coordination, something likely to figure prominently in the developmental process. Rheinmetall is also looking at other U.S. production expansion opportunities as part of the
OMFV program. “As we continue throughout the program, and different contracts are awarded, this does allow us the opportunity to expand the supply base into other areas and additional locations within the U.S., very similar to what we have successfully implemented in Australia and Hungary,” Milner said.
Overall, the large team of industry players seeks to engineer a vehicle in alignment with Army requirements, expand into new modernized U.S.- based manufacturing facilities to create new jobs, and build a vehicle of unique value to the Army. An extraordinary effort is likely needed, given that the OMFV is drawing a large number of industry competitors.
Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Master's Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.