Competition for the contest
The US Ground Forces armored fleet, despite the considerable age of many vehicles, has good potential for modernization, which, in particular, has been shown by the recent installation of the Trophy active defense complex on Abrams and plans to equip infantry fighting vehicles with it. However, this is not enough for the Americans with their colossal (first place in the world) military budget and the broadest capabilities of the military-industrial complex. More recently, in the United States, they again started talking about the program. Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV), designed to find a replacement for the M2 infantry fighting vehicle. As it turned out, the United States was forced to reconsider the requirements in the direction of more "realistic", while the idea of replacing the old BMP as such was not abandoned.
No less interesting is another program - Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF), designed to find a developer for a new combat vehicle, sometimes called a "light tank", which generally conveys the essence of the issue. This is not such a large-scale program as the aforementioned OMFV: no one will seek a replacement for Abrams. At least for now. According to the bmpd blog, the goal of the program is to build 504 serial MPF machines. First of all, they should be equipped with the individual companies planned for the formation (staffing of 14 companies) in infantry brigades (Infantry Brigade Combat teams). Such a company should be introduced into each of the 33 infantry brigades of the regular army and the US National Guard with the achievement of combat readiness of the first company in fiscal year 2025.
The mass of the combat vehicle should vary in the range of 30-40 tons; for comparison: mass tank M1A2SEP Abrams - over 63 tons. Thanks to armament, consisting of 105-mm / 120-mm guns, as well as new shells, a light tank will be able to effectively deal with much heavier vehicles, including the T-72 main battle tank.
The machine created within the framework of Mobile Protected Firepower should have good mobility, however, the protection will be significantly less than that of MBT. On the other hand, the ground forces want to equip the light tank with an active defense complex, which, although it does not become a full-fledged alternative to the armor of the main battle tank, will help the MPF survive at least several attacks from anti-tank missile systems by eliminating threats from firing striking elements.
General Dynamics Project
On April 22, General Dynamics Corporation and the U.S. Ground Forces held a public demonstration of a prototype of a new light tank developed under the MPF program. The presentation was held during a visit by US Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy to the General Dynamics Ground System plant.
Strictly speaking, we could see the general concept of the project before. As part of last year's 2019 Modern Day Marine exhibition and conference held in Quantico, General Dynamics showed a model of a promising light tank, designated Griffin II. The tank is being developed on the basis of the previously shown Griffin I. The latter is a fighting vehicle based on the ASCOD 2 chassis with a modified lightweight version of the M1A2SEPv2 Abrams tank turret. It was supposed to install a new 120 mm XM360 cannon on a light tank.
Immediately you need to pay attention to one important aspect that can be misleading. Now General Dynamics is creating another Griffin - Griffin III. The infantry fighting vehicle is the one that was offered to the Ground Forces as a replacement for the M2 Bradley as part of the OMFV program mentioned above. It is noteworthy that during a visit to the General Dynamics Ground System, McCarthy showed both Griffin. It will be difficult to say whether this will affect the decision to choose a BMP from General Dynamics: recall that in the framework of an earlier stage of the OMFV competition, this vehicle simply did not have competitors for a number of reasons.
As for the presented tank, there are no special "revolutions" here. As expected, the concept of the machine is based on previously proven technical solutions. According to Army Recognition, the tank uses the M1A2 Sep V3 fire control system and Commander's Independent Thermal Viewer (CITV). The base of armament is a 105-mm gun, in addition to it, the tank carries a 12,7-mm machine gun. The engine and driver are located in front of the machine, the tower is shifted back.
Bae Systems Project
The British project for the Mobile Protected Firepower contest, unlike the General Dynamics tank, has been known for a long time. Back in 2018, BAE showed the M8 Armored Gun System (AGS), which will compete for the victory. The offer from Misty Albion is nothing more than an upgraded version of the M8 light tank - an experienced 80s airborne combat vehicle.
She has a difficult fate. Initially, the light tank was developed on an initiative by FMC. The machine had a combat weight of 19 to 25 tons, depending on the configuration, and was equipped with a 105 mm M35 gun in a remote installation with an automatic loader. Since the United States reduced funding for defense projects in the 90s, the M8 did not become a production version. At the same time, his narrow airborne specialization has stood in the way of export success. As a result, work on the car was stopped in 1996.
It is difficult to say whether the British will be able to take into account the mistakes of past developers, but some important improvements have already been made. Recall, during the AUSA Global 2019 exhibition, BAE Systems presented an updated version of the combat vehicle equipped with the Iron Fist active protection system developed by the Israeli IMI Systems. This is an advanced KAZ, first tested in 2006. The system located above the combat vehicle creates a protected hemisphere, tracking threats using radars. Interceptors are made of easily combustible materials, which minimizes the damage associated with the destruction of enemy ammunition flying up to the tank. “Our solution is based on the needs of IBCT and the emerging threats that they face,” says BAE.
Comparison and Potential
Due to the relatively limited information about new machines, their comparison with each other, as well as with other conditional analogues, is difficult. However, shortly after the General Dynamics presentation, “strange” attempts appeared to draw far-reaching conclusions. In the West, for some reason, they again started talking about the T-14 on the basis of “Almaty”, although not one of the machines participating in the MPF competition is close to its analogue.
Even more mixed is the reaction of a number of Russian observers. “The new US light tanks could not surpass the Russian Octopus-SD,” Rossiyskaya Gazeta, the official press agency of the Russian government, titled her story.
The incorrectness of the comparison is due to the fact that Octopus (and the authors of the material themselves admit it), probably has a much lower degree of protection than the new western samples. Which does not mean that the "Octopus-SD" is an unsuccessful or unnecessary car.