The US Division of Protection (DoD) has confirmed that Basic Dynamics Land Methods will ship an preliminary 24 Cell Platform Fires (MPF) in Q1 of 2024, a part of a $1.14bn contract to provide 96 automobiles. The lightly-armoured land platform will fill a functionality hole in infantry brigades for an airborne-capable tracked car that may present fire-on-the-move functionality.

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“The MPF programme initiated the Low-Fee Preliminary Manufacturing (LRIP) section…in June 2022,” mentioned US Military spokesperson Ellen Lovett, instructed Military Know-how, including that LRIP deliveries had been anticipated to happen within the first quarter of the monetary 12 months 2024.

Built-in MPF and infantry deployment

After MPF crews have established logistics and strategic practices the platform will connect with US Military Infantry Brigade Fight Groups (IBCTs), the place they are going to prepare collectively to ascertain a brand new battlefield function.

“The MPF is a brand new functionality to the IBCTs. It offers IBCTs with cell, protected direct fireplace functionality to use deadly and sustained long-range fires to armoured automobiles, hardened enemy fortifications and dismounted personnel,” mentioned Lovett.

In a Life Cycle Environmental Evaluation revealed by the US Military in August final 12 months, the MPF challenge administration workforce had been express in regards to the necessities for the car, stating that “the MPF will probably be a extremely cell, multi-terrain, armoured tracked car with direct-fire capabilities”.

“Two MPFs should be transportable in an operational, drive-on/drive-off configuration in a single C-17 plane and permit unrestricted freeway, rail, and marine transport worldwide,” the LCEA report continued, highlighting the central requirement for mobility and airborne deployment. “Transport constraints restrict the MPF’s bodily dimensions and its weight to roughly 42 tons.”

A Congressional Analysis Service (CRS) report from 18 Might 2022, was clear in regards to the strategic area of interest the MPF is filling: ‘At the moment the Military’s Infantry Brigade Fight Groups should not have a fight car assigned that’s able to offering cell, protected, direct, offensive fireplace functionality.’

Tristan Sauer, land area analyst at GlobalData, talking in July of the final airborne-capable tracked car the US Military maintained, mentioned: “The aptitude hole left by the retirement of the M551 Sheridan mild tank in 1996 has been a degree of rivalry for the reason that finish of the First Gulf Warfare.”

The Sheridan’s capabilities had been formidable, outfitted with an autoloader that had been state-of-the-art when first delivered, however its technological shortfalls had been a legal responsibility for IBCTs and upkeep necessities hampered manoeuvrability.  

In an Affiliation of the US Military article revealed in 10 December 2021, Lt Col Ben Ferguson and Capt Lennard Salcedo level to potential criticism over how the MPF might nonetheless encumber the IBCTs mobility, with MPF upkeep and resupply including to the listing of duties operational management items need to handle. 

The authors famous that integration into an IBCT will present “natural logistic help” for the platform, mitigating a number of the drawbacks of other armoured property with higher communication and enhanced understanding of necessities. Managing the logistical footprint then turns into a planning issue for management quite than a limitation to operations. 

Speedy manufacturing

By integrating current mature applied sciences and elements the event of the MPF has prevented challenges which might lengthen this system schedule, in line with the CRS report.

The versatile middle-tier acquisition laws granted by Congress in 2016 allowed for “accelerated prototype supply”, mentioned Doug Bush, the US Military’s acquisition government. The center-tier strategy prioritises speedy growth by exempting the programme from many current DoD acquisition processes and insurance policies. 

A 2020 US Authorities Accountability Workplace (GAO) report into the Subsequent Technology Fight Automobile programme estimated for the MPF life-cycle price was roughly $16bn for the entire programme, complete of analysis and growth, analysis, procurement, operations and help, and disposal. The GAO was cautious in regards to the speedy growth course of being applied: “The Military’s plans for these tanks and different armoured automobiles prioritise speedy growth. That may restrict perception into potential dangers.

“The Military took some steps to scale back the dangers of price overruns and programme delays,” continued the GAO. “The Military didn’t absolutely take into account all potential price uncertainties. It additionally delayed key engineering evaluations for these efforts, rising the danger of auto design issues.”

Nonetheless, the middle-tier acquisition authorities enabled the US Military to rapidly transfer prototypes into the crews’ palms for restricted consumer testing and soldier car evaluation throughout mid-tier acquisition speedy prototyping section, in accordance Lovett, with soldier suggestions offered to the unique gear producers “in sufficient time for them to switch their car designs and replace their Low-Fee Preliminary Manufacturing proposals.”

The CRS report additionally expressed concern over the combination of the MPF into service given present recruiting challenges, as every MPF firm requires 64 armour crewman and 24 upkeep troopers to take care of the platforms methods. 

Moreover, the CRS acknowledged the challenges across the MPF’s central weapon. As a substitute of 120mm ammunition that’s the usual throughout NATO companions, the MPF’s cannon makes use of 105mm ordnance that’s unusual sufficient for “industrial base-associate munition manufacturing challenges” to be a priority within the face of the present restricted amount of on-hand, serviceable 105mm ammunition. 

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