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Video Above: Top Army Weapons Buyer Details Future Attack Technology

By Kris Osborn - President & Editor-In-Chief, Warrior Maven

The Army is surging into the build prototype phase of its emerging Bradley replacement vehicle, the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle, a new platform which will transport soldiers into combat, possibly launch drones and operate autonomously on the battlefield.

Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle

Developed as part of the Army’s Next Generation Combat Vehicle program, the new infantry carrier has been amid ongoing design work with five different contractor teams working to provide the Army with an optimal solution.

“We have five companies under contract now than our, in our current, our current phase, where we're working through digital design work,” Mr. Douglas Bush, Assistant Secretary of the Army, Acquisition, Logistics & Technology, told Warrior in an interview.

Video Above: Acquisition, Logistics and Technology - Future of Tanks

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As is often the case, ultimate requirements for the vehicle are likely still a work in progress as the Army engages with industry partners to build prototypes, integrate emerging technologies and begin testing and assessments.

“I’m really pleased with what I'm seeing, I think the Army is on the good path there, I think we're taking the right approach, in terms of the next stage will include up to three vendors actually building real prototypes, that we're going to test and fully figure out what they can and can't do before we lock the requirements and to actually go to production. In the past, the Army has locked requirements kind of too early in some cases, and gotten ourselves in situations where we didn't have flexibility later, when you know, the technology worked out a little different. I think we're avoiding that trap this time,” Bush said.

The Army has awarded deals to Point Blank Enterprises, Inc. (Miami Lakes, Florida); Oshkosh Defense, LLC (Oshkosh, Wisconsin); BAE Systems Land and Armaments L.P. (Sterling Heights, Michigan); General Dynamics Land Systems, Inc. (Sterling Heights, Michigan); and American Rheinmetall Vehicles, LLC (Sterling Heights, Michigan). The total award value for all five contracts is approximately $299.4 million, an Army statement from 2021 said.

The Army conducts tests of an Advanced Running Gear using a Bradley Fighting Vehicle as a surrogate for the OMFV

The Army conducts tests of an Advanced Running Gear using a Bradley Fighting Vehicle as a surrogate for the OMFV

Army program leaders explain that the development strategy is aimed at inspiring industry innovators to think creatively about new methods of engineering improved combat performance. An Army statement said that following the Concept Design Phase, the Army intends to have a another full and open competition for the Detailed Design Phase (Phase III), with the intent to award up to three contracts in the second quarter of fiscal year 2023.

This initial digital design phase will lay down a technical and conceptual roadmap for an initial OMFV requirements document. While requirements will evolve and continue to be refined in coming years, some early concepts offered by the Army include advanced levels of autonomy, including an ability to operate drones, operate with lethality in “close combat” circumstance in either a manned or robotic capacity and achieve what Army developers call “positional advantage.”

“What we're hoping to see, you know, the ability to use directed energy in the future, the ability to have more efficient power plants, the ability to have fewer people on board to still do the mission,” Bush added. 

Kris Osborn is the President of Warrior Maven - Center for Military Modernization and 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 Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

Kris Osborn, Warrior Maven President

Kris Osborn, Warrior Maven President - Center for Military Modernization