Military Review

Light tanks MPF delayed due to pandemic

19

Experienced tank from GDLS, April 2020


In the near future, the US Army plans to begin comparative tests of two promising "light tanks»Developed under the Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) program. However, these activities have to be postponed to a later date. Due to the ongoing pandemic, two companies participating in the program were unable to build the required equipment in the required quantities on time.

Order and its execution


The MPF program started in 2015, and by the end of 2018, the final composition of its participants was determined. At the same time, orders appeared for the construction of experimental equipment for comparative tests. General Dynamics Land Systems was supposed to build 12 tanks with a total value of $ 355 million, and BAE Systems received a similar order worth $ 376 million.

Under the terms of two contracts, the delivery of finished equipment was to start in March 2020 and end no later than the end of August. At first, the work went well and on schedule. So, in April of this year, cars of new models were shown to the Minister of the Army. It was reported that they would soon be handed over to the customer.

However, the program participants soon faced serious difficulties. The outbreak of the pandemic hit production in various areas and the MPF program became one of its "victims". Due to problems in the production cooperation line, both contractors were unable to complete and deliver all ordered tanks on time.

Deadlines are disrupted


According to Janes, GDLS and BAE Systems managed to build and transfer to the army only a small part of the experienced armored vehicles by the end of August. What success BAE Systems can boast of is not specified. At the same time, the GDLS project is fairly detailed.


On August 26, GDLS delivered the first two experimental tanks to the customer. Acceptance of the third was expected over the next few days. The company reports that several more armored vehicles are in various stages of production. In the absence of serious problems of one kind or another, they will be completed in the near future and submitted for testing.

The MPF program management admitted that plans to receive 24 tanks by the end of August were thwarted. Given the current problems and challenges, the Pentagon expects prototype production to be completed only in FY2021. It starts in October, giving contractors some time, but the last tanks may arrive even later.

Plans and reality


Last year, the US Army revealed some details of future testing. Two dozen light tanks, received by the end of August 2020, were planned to be transferred to one of the units of the 82nd Airborne Division in early autumn. The paratroopers had to learn and master the new technique, as well as try it out in various tests and exercises.

Comparative and military tests were given more than a year. In FY2022 the program management had to study the test results and select the most successful sample. Then the signing of a contract for full-scale serial production was expected. The army needs 504 tanks of a new type to re-equip "light" units from the ground and airborne forces.

Full MPF military service is due to begin in FY2025. - in the fall of calendar year 2024 or later. The complete re-equipment is planned to be carried out in several years and completed by the beginning of the thirties.

Light tanks MPF delayed due to pandemic

BAE Systems' first M8 AGS prototype

As it became known a few days ago, the production of prototypes did not meet the approved plans. Accordingly, the entire schedule of follow-up activities will have to be shifted to the right by several months. An updated schedule for the MPF program may appear shortly.

In connection with recent events, the beginning of trial operation and comparison is shifted from autumn to winter. Anti-epidemic measures may hinder the planned work, and the selection of the winner will move to a later date, until the end of FY2022. In the future, the winner of the program will have the opportunity to optimize some processes and save time, so that the project will again come into line with the original schedule. Then the army could actually get new light tanks in FY2025.

Not just a pandemic


It should be noted that the pandemic and its associated industrial problems are not the only threats to the MPF program. There are several other factors that can negatively affect the course of the program or even lead to its closure.

First of all, the difficulties are related to the specific requirements of the customer. The army requires a tank with a combat mass of no more than 25-30 tons with high mobility, with protection against small-caliber shells, carrying a large-caliber gun, and also equipped with modern control systems and communication and control facilities. Both proposed tanks make extensive use of new components that have not yet passed the necessary testing. This combination of special requirements and novelty leads to known risks that can manifest themselves at any stage of work.

At the moment, the MPF program turns out to be quite expensive. In accordance with the contracts of 2018, one experimental tank, taking into account the cost of development work, costs at least $ 29,6 million. Probably, serial products will be cheaper, but their real cost - as well as the price of the entire series - remains unknown.


Tank from BAE Systems for testing, April 2020

In the context of the prospects for MPF, previous attempts to create a light tank are often recalled. In 1996, the US Army retired the obsolete M551 Sheridan. A promising M8 was created for the vacant niche, but it was soon abandoned too. Then there were new proposals and projects - again unsuccessful. In connection with such past events, a forecast is made about the possible failure of the current MPF program.

Technical optimism


However, the companies participating in the program remain optimistic and continue to work. The first samples of armored vehicles have already been handed over to the customer, and soon the following vehicles will be sent for testing. BAE Systems and GDLS, despite all the difficulties and limitations, are ready to fight for a large contract for 504 tanks.

BAE Systems is currently building light tanks with the working designation M8 Armored Gun System - a modern version of the M8 project, modified with the use of new technologies and components. This tank has combined armor against small-caliber projectiles and can carry additional protection. the main thing weapon - 105-mm rifled gun for a unitary shot, controlled by a modern all-weather and all-day fire control system. Due to its limited dimensions and weight of no more than 30 tons, the tank can be transported by air.

General Dynamics offers a variant of the previously presented Griffin III armored vehicle. In terms of the main design features and tactical and technical characteristics, this sample is similar to the M8 AGS. Various original solutions are also offered, such as unusual overhead protection and camouflage modules. Air transportability is provided. It is possible to strengthen the armament by installing a new type of 120-mm smoothbore cannon.

In general, the two "light tanks" for the MPF program are similar and, apparently, are of equal interest to the customer. To determine a more successful sample that better meets the tactical and technical requirements, a full range of tests and checks is required, incl. on the basis of military units.

For obvious reasons, the production of experimental equipment was delayed, and the start of the comparison was postponed for several months. This can affect some of the subsequent stages of the program, but then it becomes possible to make up for lost time and complete previously set tasks. There are still chances to meet the original schedule, but there are various risks that can affect the course of the program or lead to its cancellation.
Author:
Photos used:
US Army, BAE Systems
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  1. Grazdanin
    Grazdanin 1 September 2020 18: 23 New
    +1
    The MBT concept raises big questions. For wars of "low intensity" they are excessive, for "big war" the seizure of air superiority will be more important. According to Clooney's interview, BMPs posed a greater danger in Donbas than Ukrainian MBTs. At the same time, purchasing and servicing require a lot of money.
    1. Lopatov
      Lopatov 1 September 2020 18: 47 New
      +3
      Quote: Grazdanin
      For wars of "low intensity" they are excessive

      Rather insufficient. We need more secure machines.

      Quote: Grazdanin
      more important will be the capture of air superiority.

      It is enough not to give such superiority to the enemy.
    2. English tarantas
      English tarantas 2 September 2020 21: 01 New
      0
      For wars of "low intensity" they are excessive

      The ability to constantly have something cheap and angry on some basement floor is very necessary in mad-intensive wars, watch the same reports from Syria. Tank and Shilka allow you to move without heavy losses.
      big war "will be more important to capture air superiority

      And then what, then again, minimizing losses, you need to defeat the ground forces, for this you need armored vehicles, the more and earlier it arrives, the better, for the Americans this is very important.
      According to Clooney's interview, BMPs posed a greater danger in Donbas than Ukrainian MBTs.

      It's clear that picking three homeless people from the trench is better from 2A42 than from 2A46.
      In partisan wars, BMPs are more needed than tanks, and BCs are larger and targets are thinner and infantry can be rolled, but only the firepower is insufficient.
      1. Grazdanin
        Grazdanin 3 September 2020 00: 05 New
        -2
        Quote: English tarantass
        The ability to constantly have something cheap and angry on some basement floor is very necessary

        Here we are faced with the insufficient protection of MBT, we have to come up with city body kits. We need heavy tanks.
        Quote: English tarantass
        in addition, armored vehicles are needed, the more and earlier it arrives, the better

        Here we are faced with the slowness of the MBT and logistic difficulties. We need medium tanks with good mine protection and capable of withstanding hits from a 30 mm side and intercepting ATGMs.
        Quote: English tarantass
        but only the firepower is insufficient.

        Here we are faced with the fact that the MBT is somewhere else and the inability to quickly redeploy it. We need wheeled tanks for quick transport on public roads.

        In fact, MBT is now weak in every component. It's hard to believe in tank wedges driving an avalanche towards the English Channel. Two pairs of Apaches, a tank battalion will be destroyed in less than a minute. The development of UAVs will turn ground armored vehicles into targets that will be destroyed by quasi-AI. The war turned into the seizure of air superiority, the destruction of large formations and equipment from the air, and the clearing of the territory. Where the MBT is here is not clear. It looks like we are returning to the concept of the early to mid-20th century. Heavy tanks for urban battles, medium, light, wheeled tanks for clearing the territory.
        In the US, the Marines are abandoning the Abrams and are planning an 8 * 8 "different design." Based on the fact that the LAV-25 plays all roles except a wheeled tank, most likely it will be. In the Army, the Abrams are transformed into heavy tanks with a logical decrease in their number and reinstatement in the ranks of light-medium tanks.
        1. Sckepsis
          Sckepsis 4 September 2020 08: 10 New
          0

          The war turned into a seizure of air superiority


          On the eve of WWII, they thought so too, it did not grow together.
  2. parusnik
    parusnik 1 September 2020 19: 14 New
    0
    And their timing is not right ...
  3. Lopatov
    Lopatov 1 September 2020 19: 18 New
    0
    In fact, the Americans realized the need for tanks. Or at least direct fire support vehicles

    The "heavy" ones have the "Abrams", the "Stryker" have the M1128 MGS, the "light ones" have nothing, but there will be cars created under the MPF program
    1. Blackgrifon
      Blackgrifon 2 September 2020 20: 41 New
      0
      Quote: Spade
      The Stryker has an M1128 MGS, the lungs have nothing, but there will be vehicles created under the MPF program

      Yes, and Stryker has nothing - a weak and not very advanced cannon vehicle, coupled with machine-gun armored personnel carriers - it's such a thing ...
      1. English tarantas
        English tarantas 2 September 2020 21: 04 New
        0
        So they are already supplying with the tower with the Bushmaster to the European striker brigades. And so, in addition to the MGS, the striker also has a self-hardened mortar and an SPTRK, it is normal for them, and most likely they will not have a light tank.
        1. Blackgrifon
          Blackgrifon 5 September 2020 21: 01 New
          0
          So far, only one regiment. Mortars and SPTRK will not replace BMP.
          True, since that year, they were able to sell 12,7 / AG + ATGM at the RCUM for JLTV.
          LT for the National Guard and infantry brigades - and this is 2/3 of all ground forces.
          1. English tarantas
            English tarantas 6 September 2020 01: 07 New
            0
            Mortars and SPTRK will not replace BMP.

            There, a friend wrote above that Stryker's brigades are not very capable, I immediately remembered that the same base of the APC allows you to pile normally. It goes without saying about replacing the BMP.
    2. English tarantas
      English tarantas 2 September 2020 21: 08 New
      0
      In fact, the Americans realized the need for tanks. Or at least direct fire support vehicles

      Did they only realize? They always had something lighter than MBT, there were the Sheridans and M41, then the Stryker MGS. Rather, they realized that the current absence of such a machine is not good for them. Abrashkas are still hard to carry, the Sheridans and M41 are ancient, the Stryker is unique, the niche is empty, but very important.
  4. Turist1996
    Turist1996 1 September 2020 20: 08 New
    12
    "The outbreak of the pandemic hit production in different areas and the MPF program became one of its" victims. "Due to problems in the production cooperation line, both contractors were unable to complete and deliver all the ordered tanks on time."
    "As it became known a few days ago, the production of prototypes did not meet the approved plans. Accordingly, the entire schedule of subsequent activities will have to be shifted to the right for several months."
    "For obvious reasons, the production of experimental equipment has been delayed, and the start of the comparison is postponed for several months."

    The author can be seen right away - that Damantseva, that Ryabova, that Apukhtina.
    Ryabov's trick is to write the same thing ten times in different phrases. In the style of Western propaganda TV programs: ".. And then Pythagoras realized that twice two is four, and the sum of the squares of the legs is equal to the square of the hypotenuse! In other words: the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares of the legs, and four is two times two !! You see ?! "
    In short, either the author is such a "brake", or the readers are held by the brakes, or the normal technical literature for schoolchildren of the times of the USSR (such as "Technician-youth" or at least "Young technician") has never read in his life. But the presentation of the material is just horror, how boring! Just some kind of "chewing gum": a minimum of information, a bunch of printed signs.
    Graphomaniac!
    1. abrakadabre
      abrakadabre 2 September 2020 08: 30 New
      +2
      Quote: Turist1996
      Just some kind of "chewing gum": a minimum of information, a bunch of printed signs.
      Graphomaniac!

      So not to make up a newspaper page or a magazine ... paper ... Saving space is not required. Electronic publication. And the possible fee from the editorial board depends on the volume, most likely. So that...
      If the author would transmit his articles to the editor in Morse code by radio, their volume would be reduced dramatically.
      1. bandabas
        bandabas 2 September 2020 17: 59 New
        0
        First of all, on the volume. Ha ha.
    2. Avior
      Avior 2 September 2020 08: 33 New
      +1
      I think it’s easier.
      Brevity is the sister of talent, but the mother-in-law of the fee.
      smile
  5. Andrey83
    Andrey83 1 September 2020 22: 39 New
    +1
    12 light tanks for 376 ml ...
    1 tank - 31.3ml.
    what
    Stealth hike ...
    1. English tarantas
      English tarantas 2 September 2020 21: 09 New
      0
      Experienced, break the price. Then a series, and the price will be broken in the ministry
  6. bk0010
    bk0010 2 September 2020 14: 27 New
    +2
    T-55 for nearly 30 megabytes? Generally swollen!