The US Army has selected its team to begin replacing the venerable M113 family of vehicles (FOV).
The once ubiquitous M113 FOV is based on an armored personnel carrier design that first saw US combat application in Vietnam during the early 1960s. The armored personnel carrier introduced “aluminum armor” into the US military, allowing for significantly lighter weight platforms and eventually spawning myriad vehicle variants, including systems like the “raised hull” design of the M577 series command and control vehicles, the M1064 series self-propelled mortar vehicle or the M548 series of unarmored resupply vehicle.
Along the way, M113 FOV performance was significantly enhanced through the introduction of sequential power and suspension upgrade “packages.” The most recent performance upgrade package, designated “A3,” began entering Army inventories in the late 1980s / early 1990s.
However, a combination of factors, including inadequate force protection, size, weight, power and cooling restrictions on future technologies and an inability to keep pace and fight within the Army’s Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT) led to formal “termination” of the Army’s M113 program in 2007.
That termination created a dilemma of what to do with the thousands of M113 FOV platforms still operating in Army formations. In the case of the ABCTs, for example, approximately 3,000 M113 FOV platforms make up almost 1/3 of the entire ABCT fleet. Moreover, approximately 2,000 additional M113 FOVs are fielded throughout the Army in units at echelons above brigade.
The solution to the problem emerged in the form of an Armored Multi Purpose Vehicle (AMPV).
In early 2012, the Army received approval to enter into the Materiel Solutions Analysis Phase for AMPV. That effort included an Analysis of Alternatives (AoA) to determine the most cost-effective replacement strategy for the Armored Personnel Carrier M113 FOV. As part of the AoA, the Army was directed to examine the current M113, current and modified existing vehicles (Bradley, M113 upgrades, MRAP, and Stryker vehicles), other non-developmental items or modified non-developmental items, new start vehicles such as GCV and JLTV, or a combination of alternatives.
Not surprisingly, industry OEMs positioned themselves firmly behind their own vehicle platforms, with General Dynamics Land Systems touting their Stryker vehicle as the best jumping off point for an AMPV solution while BAE Systems did the same for their Bradley chassis.
The Army’s program foundation led to the government release of a formal request for proposal (RfP) in late November 2013. That RfP identified the AMPV Family of Vehicles (FoV) as “a materiel solution replacement for the M113 FoV to mitigate current and future capability gaps in force protection, mobility, reliability, and interoperability by mission role variant to support the Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT) across the Spectrum of Conflict.”
As designed, the program will replace the five mission roles currently performed by the M113 FOV by transferring the current M113 Mission Equipment Packages (MEP) to a new vehicle platform. The initial focus of AMPV is on five specific variants of the M113 platforms fielded within the ABCT: Mission Command (MCmd) Vehicle; Medical Treatment (MT) Vehicle; Medical Evacuation (ME) Vehicle; General Purpose (GP) Vehicle; and Mortar Carrier (MC) Vehicle.
An interesting aspect of the RfP was the possibility of using existing Bradley or M113 vehicles currently stored at Army depots as “optional exchange vehicles” in the creation of new AMPVs.
On 23 December 2014, the Army announced the award of the AMPV engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) contract to BAE Systems Land & Armaments, L.P. The BAE Systems AMPV team includes DRS Technologies, Northrop Grumman Corporation, Air Methods Corporation, and Red River Army Depot.
“Today’s announcement sets in motion a long-awaited and important modernization effort for the Army. The AMPV family of vehicles will fill critical force protection, survivability and mobility capability gaps inherent in today’s Armored Brigade Combat Teams. As a team we’ve worked diligently to make certain we’ve taken the right steps early on to minimize risk and maximize commonality to ensure AMPV remains an affordable solution for the Army,” said Brig. Gen. David Bassett, the Army’s Program Executive Officer (PEO) for Ground Combat Systems.
PEO representatives add that the 52-month EMD phase, valued at approximately $382 million, “will develop an affordable, integrated system to meet the Army’s critical requirements. The Army will take the 29 vehicles produced in this phase and put them through rigorous developmental and operational testing to ensure they are effective and suitable for today’s mechanized warrior.”
“The award also provides an optional LRIP phase; if awarded, the company would produce an additional 289 vehicles for a total contract value of $1.2 billion,” they added.
BAE Systems representatives emphasized that AMPV “capitalizes on proven Bradley and M109A7 designs, meeting the Army’s force protection and all-terrain mobility requirements while enabling the AMPV to maneuver with the rest of the Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT). The maximized commonality within the AMPV family of vehicles and the ABCT will reduce risk and provide significant cost savings to the Army.”
The current AMPV program will only replace 2,897 M113 vehicles at the brigade and below level within the ABCT. The Army is currently assessing what to do with the approximately 2,000 M113s supporting echelons above brigade.