17 July 2010

In the Annals of Troubled Military Programs, This One Takes the Cake

As I have mentioned a number of times that I spent some time working on the recovery and maintenance vehicle for the now-canceled Future Combat Systems (FCS).

Well, no matter how misbegotten, it appears that the program reappears with a different name a few years later.

Case in point is the replacement for the FCS, the Ground Combat Vehicle, GCV, which is different largely in only one area, it no longer needs to fly on a C-130, so the 20 ton maximum weight for shipping has gone by the wayside.

This is not surprising. After all replacing the 30 ton weight class M2/M3 with a vehicle with superior mobility and protection is difficult to do in ⅔ the weight of its predecessor, all while reducing the cost of operation, is a tough nut to crack.

It's clear that they will be going with a remotely operated turret, and without the space for the gunner and commander and the turret penetration, it makes it rather simple to fix a rather prominent shortcoming of the Bradley, its inability to carry a full 9 soldier infantry squad.

So the Pentagon is are back to square, which means fighting the wheels/tracks war yet again, though it appears that the military is favoring a tracked vehicle.

The advantages of tracks are better off road mobility, better performance in an active city conflict, since it can go over a road block made from cars or trucks, and a wheeled vehicle cannot, and more volumetric efficiency, since the wheel travel is less, and you do not need to accommodate the swept volume of the wheels which pivot to steer.

The disadvantages are operating costs, noise, weight and speed on roads.

That being said, one huge advantage for tracks is that if your infantry fighting vehicle grows into a 70 ton behemoth, wheels just won't work at all:
The U.S. Army's chief of staff wants to put the service's Ground Combat Vehicle program on a diet.

Gen. George Casey said he thinks the future replacement for the Bradley Fighting Vehicle needs to be much lighter than the estimated 70 tons program officials are projecting that the new GCV will weigh.
Related Topics

"I keep saying, 'Look, man, an MRAP [mine-resistant ambush-protected] is about 23 tons, and you're telling me this is going to be 70 tons, which is the same as an [M1] Abrams. Surely we can get a level of protection between that, that is closer to the MRAP than it is the M1,' " Casey said June 7. "It's not going to be a super heavyweight vehicle."
It would also be unaffordable. I would suggest that if the army really needs a better vehicle, that it procures new-build/rebuilt Bradleys, with the crewed turret replaced with something like the CTI tele-operated turret, and with enhanced armor based on the non-homogeneous armor technologies developed for the M-1 Abrams and the original FCS program.

You would still probably end up with less than a 40 ton weight, and you would get the capability you need at a much lower cost.

Meanwhile in the somewhat less sexy areas of folding in a few drones and an advanced network-based radio called JTRS as part of what is now called the, "Brigade Combat Team Modernization, the House Armed Services Committee is cutting this because of poor performance and cost escalation.

Once again, it's over budget, behind schedule, and not performing.

So on the little things, where the Pentagon knows what needs to be done, they are not executing, and on the big programs, they don't have a clue as to what they want.

Count me in Barney Frank's and Ron Paul's corner. We need to slash military spending.

I would also add that we need to somehow or other put adults in charge of the procurement process.


Post a Comment