Related Video Above: Army Sets the Bar "Very High" For Its New Optionally-Manned Fighting Vehicle
The Chief of Staff of the Army says 24 of the services “signature systems” being developed for future war will be ready by 2023. Over just the next few years, a number of next-generation weapons platforms are slated to be delivered to include a new infantry carrier, helicopter, rifle and hypersonic missile.
2023 will be a big year, Gen. James McConville indicated in a statement, because it will mark the arrival of the Army’s now-in-development Long Range Hypersonic Weapon as well the service’s Next-Generation Squad Weapon Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle.
In 2017, the Army announced 31 modernization efforts and four more were later added for directed energy and hypersonic systems, creating the well known “31 plus 4” modernization plan. By 2023, McConville explained, the service will have delivered as many as 24 of them.
Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV)
These systems are very much in high demand and considered urgent modernization priorities for the Army. Therefore, the service is moving quickly to replace its aging Bradley Fighting Vehicle with the new, now-underway OMFV platform.
Multiple contractor teams are now refining designs and offering solutions to the Army in preparation for the service’s next phase which will be to down select for actual prototype construction and testing.
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The new OMFV will be both manned and unmanned for the specific purpose of expanding the reach of the battlefield and enabling an entirely new sphere of missions. These include ammunition delivery, drone targeting, forward surveillance and even weapons attacks moving to contact with an enemy.
Next Generation Squad Weapon
The Next Generation Squad Weapon is yet another pressing Army effort intended to ultimately replace the M1A4 rifle and improve warfare lethality. Army program developers explain that the new weapon will incorporate improved ergonomics, signature suppressing capabilities, data power transfer, new rail designs, a lightweight case and “increased performance at range.
Long Range Hypersonic Weapon
”The most urgent of these fast-tracked programs might well be the new Long Range Hypersonic Weapon, a long range missile able to travel at more than five-times the speed of sound to descend upon its target. Schedule is extremely crucial for LRHW developers as many senior Pentagon leaders say the U.S. is “number three” behind both Russia and China when it comes to hypersonic weapons. The U.S. is now making rapid progress to close the gap.
The Army’s modernization strategy and delivery timelines have been greatly assisted by computer simulation and digital engineering which enables developers to assess multiple designs for a given platform at one time without having to “bend metal” or actually build prototypes to establish performance parameters.
The concept to accelerate technology development, delivery and deployment to war without compromising crucial testing, milestones and certifications essential to the process. Weapons maturation is also greatly assisted by what the Army calls “soldier touchpoints,” exercises wherein emerging technologies are put in warfare circumstances for warfighters to made crucial assessments and offer operational input.
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.