In the NDIA’s National Defense magazine’s blog there is a post: Don’t Rush to Buy New Vehicles, Army and Marine Corps Warned
The traditional approach to updating U.S. military hardware — spending years and billions of dollars on next-generation designs — is no longer working for the Army and the Marine Corps as they seek replacements for their combat vehicles.
One reason for the military to hold off on buying new vehicles is that there are no technological silver bullets to make military trucks, tanks and personnel carriers less vulnerable to enemy weapons, …. Adversaries can acquire and deploy antitank weapons and roadside bombs much faster and at far less cost than the U.S. military can build countermeasures and survivable vehicles,
It’s not clear that the Army or the Marine Corps can “get out of this box,” Outspending the enemy in this case is a losing battle. … “Adversaries’ use of guided weapons, relatively cheap and rapidly fielded anti-armor weapons … threatens to increase significantly the costs incurred by U.S. ground troops in accomplishing their assigned missions,”
The Army’s procurement bureaucracy is still reeling from the failure of its $200 Future Combat Systems. Although the follow-on program, the Ground Combat Vehicle, is far more modest, it is not clear that it (will) offer a substantial technological boost compared to existing vehicles
Army buyers might still be somewhat (IMO are totally) deluded by the thinking that doomed the Future Combat Systems. At the time, FCS officials touted the program for its advanced information network, which would give commanders an instant view of the battlefield and allow them to see the enemy without being detected.
After the termination of FCS, the Army continued the push for an advanced communications network, which is now billed as the services number-one modernization priority. The problem, … is that the Army still assumes it can deploy a network at will. “The assumption is that we are operating in a permissive environment … that once we set up the network, nobody is going to tear it down,”
We have operated in a permissive environment, electronically and even threat wise for the past decade at least. We have also operated in a nation building civil war environment in urban, suburban environment. Even in the ‘Stan the military faces an enemy with limited access to weapons beyond RPGs and IEDs but these have proven the Bradley is no longer viable and driven us to develop armored modestly off road vehicles like the Stryker DVH, MATV, and MAXPRO MRAP.
These vehicles use existing technology and are enough over designed to allow for evolution. They are too heavy for the Army and USMC but the effort put into the ‘light weight’ replacement the JLTV Family has already cost huge amounts and the only way the Army/USMC kept the program was mandating a weight(26,000lb), cost ($250,000 ea) and protection (MAXPRO equivalent) and letting everything else float or be a special kit. The program has been a feeding trough for the Mil-Ind-Bandit-complex for several years not for truck builders supported by the Army funding some high end components. In fact the truck builders and high end suppliers have been funding their own pragmatic tech programs based on industrial/commercial insights that in the end the Army and USMC have bought.
Recently a couple of high ups in the acquisition corps said they’ve been meeting the soldiers needs and all the grief about Comanche, Crusader, JLTV EDM, EFV, FCS, etc is all noise. Bull-crap!
Once it might have had some truth, the Army/USMC did projects to build tech and keep design experience honed. Much of the money went to top grade suppliers of engines, suspensions, transmissions, the primes never intended the vehicles to go to production, everyone learnt and had tech on the shelf. Those days are gone.
These days the programs are too tightly focused and the programs are ‘mapped’ to lead to production. So the top tier suppliers go for them, often get more than one ‘team’ funded and develop futuristic Advanced Development Models, designed to highly refined specs that require essentially custom components. To keep their engineering teams fed they keep most of the work in house and over-ride input from the lower tier suppliers they do use. The specifications are too specific and often contradictory, open to interpretation, and all too often evolving. Money swirls down the toilet by the bushel. New management comes in, new ‘baselines’ established more money flushed and eventually the program collapses. Little of the technology is of use elsewhere.
The world class suppliers all largely ignore Army programs because they have spent too much money on programs that are ill conceived and almost bound to fail. Where the automotive industry does work on gov’t programs they try to focus on programs with clear near term needs, like the highly successful, Stryker, MATV, and later MRAPS.
At the end of the day we’ll be better off letting things settle out while we fund evolutionary and component technologies. The thousands of bright young officers coming back from Iraq and the ‘Stan need to settle in, study the world, history and the potential for tightly-constrained battlespaces, they’ll be the ones to figure out what comes next, not the old guard who claim they’re ‘just fine…’