The M-2 Bradley is an Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) used to transport infantry on the battlefield and provide fire support to dismounted troops and suppress or destroy enemy fighting vehicles. The M-2 has a crew of three—commander, gunner, and driver—and carries seven fully equipped infantry soldiers. M-2 Bradley IFVs are primarily found in the Army’s Armored Brigade Combat Teams (ABCT).
The M-2 Bradley first saw combat in 1991 in Operation Desert Storm, where its crews were generally satisfied with its performance. The M-2’s service in 2003’s Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) was also considered satisfactory. However, reports of vehicle and crew losses attributed to mines, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and anti-tank rockets—despite the addition of reactive armor to the M-2—raised concerns about the survivability of the Bradley. Furthermore, the M-2 Bradley is reportedly reaching the technological limits of its capacity to
accommodate new electronics, armor, and defense systems. Moreover, current efforts to mount Active Protection Systems (APS)
on M-2 Bradleys to destroy incoming anti-tank rockets and missiles are proving difficult
Despite numerous upgrades over its lifetime, the M-2 Bradley has what some consider a notable limitation. Although the M-2 Bradley can accommodate seven fully equipped infantry soldiers, infantry squads consist of nine soldiers. As a result, “each mechanized [ABCT] infantry platoon has to divide three squads between four Bradleys, meaning that all the members of a squad are not able to ride in the same vehicle.”
This limitation raises both command and control and employment challenges for Bradley-mounted infantry squads and platoons.
In June 2018, the Army established the Next Generation Combat Vehicle (NGCV) program to replace the M-2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV), which has been in service since the early 1980s.
In October 2018, Army leadership reportedly decided to redesignate the NGCV as the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) and add additional vehicle programs to what would be called the NGCV Program. Under the new NGCV Program, the following systems are planned for development:
- The Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV): the M-2 Bradley IFV replacement.
- The Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV): the M-113 vehicle replacement.
- Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF): a light tank for Infantry Brigade Combat Teams (IBCTs).
- Robotic Combat Vehicles (RCVs): three versions, Light, Medium, and Heavy.
- The Decisive Lethality Platform (DLP): the M-1 Abrams tank replacement.
The Army’s Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) is the Army’s third attempt to replace the M-2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) which has been in service since the early 1980s. The Army has twice attempted to replace the M-2 Bradley IFV—first as part of the Future Combat System (FCS) Program, which was cancelled by the Secretary of Defense in 2009, and second with the Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) Program, cancelled by the Secretary of Defense in 2014. Despite numerous upgrades since its introduction, the Army contends the M-2 is near the end of its useful life and can no longer accommodate the types of upgrades needed for it to be effective on the modern battlefield.
The service plans to spend $4.6 billion from fiscal 2022 through FY26 on OMFV so it is turning to industry input earlier and more than ever.
Preliminary OMFV Requirements
The Army’s preliminary basic operational requirements for the OMFV included the following:
Optionally manned. It must have the ability to conduct remotely controlled operations while the crew is off-platform.
- Capacity. It should eventually operate with no more than two crewmen and possess sufficient volume under armor to carry at least six soldiers.
- Transportability. Two OMFVs should be transportable by one C-17 and be ready for combat within 15 minutes.
- Dense urban terrain operations and mobility. Platforms should include the ability to super elevate weapons and simultaneously engage threats using main gun and an independent weapons system.
- Protection. It must possess requisite protection to survive on the contemporary and future battlefield.
- Growth. It should possess sufficient size, weight, architecture, power, and cooling for automotive and electrical purposes to meet all platform needs and allow for preplanned product improvements.
- Lethality. It should apply immediate, precise, and decisively lethal extended range medium-caliber, directed energy, and missile fires in day/night/all-weather conditions, while moving and/or stationary against moving and/or stationary targets. The platform should allow for mounted, dismounted, and unmanned system target handover.
- Embedded platform training. It should have embedded training systems that have interoperability with the Synthetic Training Environment.
- Sustainability. Industry should demonstrate innovations that achieve breakthroughs in power generation and management to obtain increased operational range and fuel efficiency, increased silent watch, part and component reliability, and significantly reduced sustainment burden.
- Additional requirements included the capacity to accommodate reactive armor, and an Active Protection System (APS),
US Army launches design phase for Bradley replacement in Dec 2020
The Army plans to request whitepapers and then choose five prime contractor teams to design rough digital prototypes. The service will then award up to three contracts for a detailed design and prototype phase that will include options for low-rate initial production. One vendor will be selected to go into production.
“As we enter Phase 2, the Concept Design phase, for OMFV, inclusive feedback and innovative thinking from industry remains key,” Brig. Gen. Glenn Dean, the new program executive officer for Ground Combat Systems, said in the Army statement. “We received tremendous feedback from Industry on the draft RFP released in July, and we have made significant changes as a result of that feedback.”
The RFP for the concept design phase “reflects a reduction in scope and deliverables commensurate [with] the maturity of requirements at the outset, and lays the foundation for subsequent phases with respect to open architecture and modern engineering practices,” Dean said.
The new approach “is novel in the way it maximizes industry innovation while also reducing the burden and cost to industry for participation,” the Army statement notes. Industry will develop digital designs as requirements mature and before prototypes are built, according to the Army. The designs will also inform the Abbreviated-Concept Development Document (A-CDD) expected to be published in the first quarter of fiscal 2022. “The A-CDD allows us to make future decisions on the design without overly constricting vendor efforts to innovate,” Brig. Gen. Ross Coffman, who is in charge of Next-Generation Combat Vehicle efforts, said in the statement.
Following the concept design phase, the Army will move into a detailed design phase that will be executed over the course of FY23 and FY24. The entire program will consist of five phases that include designing, prototyping, testing and producing an OMFV. The prototyping phase will begin in fiscal year 25, according to slides presented at the OMFV industry day. Vehicle testing will begin in FY26 and wrap up in FY27 with a production decision planned for the fourth quarter of FY27. Full-rate production is expected to begin in the second quarter of FY30.
In parallel to the concept design phase, the Army will develop an open architecture for OMFV. An open architecture has risen to the top of the OMFV planner’s list of required capability, particularly after seeing the need to be networked with other capabilities across the battlefield and at the forward edge at Project Convergence at Yuma Proving Grounds, Arizona, over the summer. The Army will establish a voluntary consortium beginning in January 2021 that will represent industry, government and academia, in order to develop such an open architecture, according to the statement.
Potential OMFV Candidates
Reportedly, the Army originally planned to award a production contract for up to 3,590 OMFVs to a single vendor. Although the Army reportedly expected five to seven vendors to compete for the OMFV EMD contract, three vendors showcased prospective platforms in the fall of 2018.
BAE Systems had proposed its fifth-generation CV-90. The CV-90 was first fielded in Europe in the 1990s. The latest version mounted a 35 mm cannon provided by Northrop Grumman that can accommodate 50 mm munitions. The CV-90 featured the Israeli IMI Systems Iron Fist Active Protection System (APS). The CV-90 could accommodate a three-person crew and five infantry soldiers.
On June 10, 2019, BAE reportedly announced it would not compete for the OMFV contract suggesting the requirements and acquisition schedule “did not align with our current focus or developmental; priorities.
General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS)
GDLS proposed its Griffin III technology demonstrator, which used the British Ajax scout vehicle chassis. The Griffin III mounted a 50 mm cannon and could accommodate an APS and host unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The Griffin II could accommodate a two-person crew and six infantry soldiers.
Raytheon/Rheinmetall proposed its Lynx vehicle. It could mount a 50 mm cannon and thermal sights, and could accommodate both APS and UAVs. Raytheon states that the Lynx can accommodate a nine-soldier infantry squad.
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