Friday, May 04, 2012

Can Ground Combat Vehicle Replace Immortal M113 Gavin APC?

Replace the immortal M113 Gavin? Good luck with that.

The Army is up to the next iteration of the infantry fighting vehicle, so let's look at the evolution of the Infantry Fighting Vehicle from the lowly M2 Halftrack: 

 In the beginning, there was the halftrack, and it was good. But it was not fully tracked and did not provide overhead protection. 

** See this terrific M113 miniature made for Flames of War game ** 
Then on the second interation, the Army created the aluminum M113, and it was very good. It could swim, it could ward off small arms, it could be air dropped, and proved mobile and proof against small arms, which  is fortunately all that the Viet Cong had. The South Vietnamese ARVN troops were told that these are ARMOURED PERSONELL CARRIERS. They are NOT TANKS and you are NEVER TO FIGHT MOUNTED FROM WITHIN THE VEHICLES. So at the Battle of Ap Bac, they were pinned down by small arms fire, and nobody wanted to get out. But with one guy manning the top .50 cal gun, they were able to advance against the guerilla force across the rice paddies which were unable to stop them. 

Unfortunately, after losing every man who stepped up to the 50 cal position, they started fitting crude shields to protect the gunners. The US Army, after thoroughly berating the ARVN for not following doctrine, also began fitting similar shields, and dubbed it ACAV for Armoured Calvary variant and promptly replaced the miserable M114 (which was as big a flop as the M113 was a success for various obscure reasons) . The factory-standard central .50 position got turret-like protection with a front gun shield while the left and right topside hatch corners got shielded 7.62 position. Of course, they removed these gun positions after the Vietnam War, and PUT THEM BACK in Iraq and Afghanistan, or at least the center .50, and also put shields on armoured Humvees topside .50, but they do NOT HAVE THE SIDE 7.62 positions which would be handy in taking out mujahideen.

Thus armed, was effective as a light tank against infantry, especially when backed by the equally mobile M551 Sheridan (which had its own problems).RPG. The M113 was the most successful "tank" in Vietnam even though it was specifically designed to do just about anything except direct armoured combat, and didn't have a big gun to shoot other tanks, and was vulnerable to mines (which is why guys were seen riding on top) and RPGs (which is why they had extra concertina wire on the sides) The Israelis still use it as a first-line combat vehicle. 

 It impressed the Russians so much, they came up with the BMP which was a bit more cramped but armed to be able to attack tanks as an infantry fighting vehicle and light tank in one. 
The M2 Bradley was the Army's answer to the BMP, bigger, heavier, with full TOW and 25mm turret.

 Then the Stryker won out over M113 derivative for a somewhat lighter vehicle, though it would grow up to barely fit in a C-130 broken down, and not be able to swim or be airdropped at all, and not really fit the 105mm gun fitted to it to replace the old sheridans: M1128 Stryker MGS

The GCV probably won't be able to swim, or be airdropped, or even fit into a C-130 (C-17 is good enough now) and probably needs to be tough enough to survive an IED hit, not just RPGs

The plan is to not retire M2 or Stryker but to get rid of the M113s first, but the "Gavin" fans (as I am) will miss the light weight, high mobility and low cost of the old M113s, which were never used as airdrop tanks, and only hurriedly restored to a partial (one, not 3 MG) ACAV configuration for Iraq and Afghanistan, and should have been used in preference to up-armored humvees or trucks. The fact the M2 is too big, heavy and complex to efficiently replace the M113 begs the question of how this new GCV will be a suitable replacement (similary, the Army is looking for a helicopter to replace the Huey as the Blackhawk is an entirely larger helicopter)

This is the first I heard of the GCV, so this is what wikipedia has to say: 

Ground Combat Vehicle
File:GCV Infantry Fighting Vehicle.jpg 
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaThe Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) is the U.S. Army's replacement program for armored fighting vehicles in Heavy and Stryker brigade combat teams. The GCV is organized under the Follow On Incremental Capabilities Package of the BCT Modernization program. The first variant of the vehicle is to be prototyped in 2015 and fielded by 2017. It replaced the canceled Future Combat Systems, manned ground vehiclesprogram.[2]Design[edit]Specific design elements of the GCV will be contracted out, though the Army will design the architecture and retain overall responsibility for synchronization. This contrasts with the former FCS manned ground vehicles program where contractors had more control over the design.[3]The GCV will be networked and offer improved survivability, while using the state-of-the-art mobility and power management functions. The military is releasing classified details of the FCS Manned Ground Vehicles program to interested contractors to be utilized in design proposals for the GCV. The GCV family will be built around a common chassis.[4][edit]Network
The GCV will be networked.The GCV will be operable with the current battle command control and communications suite but would gradually use a more state-of-the-art networked integration system known as the BCT Network. It will provide exportable electrical power, and a battery charging capability for external hardware including vehicles and electronics from the BCT Soldier subsystems. The system would be capable of integration with unmanned systems and dismounted soldiers.[5][edit]MobilityThe GCV must be transportable by cargo aircraft, rail and ship. The Army requires it to meet the availability rates of the current Stryker. The Army is not limiting the vehicle by the dimensions of the C-130, which, in the past, has constrained many designs. Air mobility will be provided by the more spacious C-17. The GCV will have good cross-country mobility, with a baseline requirement of 30 mph off-road speed. The GCV should deliver higher sustainability levels and consume less fuel than the Bradley or other vehicles of similar weight and power.[5] The military is accepting both tracked and wheeled designs.[6][edit]Offensive capabilitiesThe type and caliber of the weapons are still classified or open to interpretation by the industry. The IFV variant is notable for having a non-lethal weapon requirement.[5][edit]CountermeasuresThe Army would like the GCV to have a passive blast protection level equal to the MRAP and would utilize hit avoidance systems.[5][edit]Development

Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. ArmyGeneral Peter Chiarelli hosts the second industry day.In June 2009, a blue-ribbon panel met in Washington, D.C. to discuss requirements for the Ground Combat Vehicle.[7] In October and November 2009, more than 100 defense contractors turned up for two U.S. Army-organized industry day events in Michigan to express interest in bidding on the vehicle.[8][9] A review required for continuation was held and passed in February 2010 in Washington D.C.[10][11] A request for proposals (RFP) was issued on February 25, 2010 to which companies had 60 days to respond,[11] but was extended an additional 25 days.[12] A committee is currently examining the current schedule for the GCV to "shave a little time off".[13] For fiscal year 2011, the U.S. Army wishes to spend $934 million of the $2.5 billion allocated for BCT Modernization to develop the GCV.[14]Up to three competitive contracts were to be awarded by early fall.[6][15] A prototype development contract decision would have followed by 2013.[16] The Technology Development Phase (or Milestone A) would begin in the fourth quarter of Fiscal Year 2010 with the award of up to three vehicle contracts. This will be followed by an Engineering & Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase and Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) phase before full production could start.[17]Nine vehicles were evaluated in the Analysis of Alternatives (AOA). The four primary vehicles included in the AOA were the M2A3 Bradley II, a modernizedStryker, an M2A3 Bradley variant used in Iraq, and a XM1230 Caiman Plus MRAP. The five secondary vehicles included two unnamed foreign-made platforms, the M1126 Stryker Infantry Fighting Vehicle, the M1A2 SEP TUSK Abrams, and a modernized M1 Abrams. Vehicles included the The AOA were determined to be inferior to the planned GCV.[18]On August 25, 2010, the U.S. Army canceled the current RFP to revise the requirements.[19] A new RFP is to be issued 60 days later.[20][21] When Peter Chiarelli was asked if the Army was developing an alternative to the GCV, Chiarelli replied "We're totally committed to GCV."[22] The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform suggests deferring development of the GCV until after 2015.[23][edit]Variants

Artist's impression of the GCV Infantry Fighting VehicleThe Army is using an incremental approach to combat vehicle modernization, centered on the Ground Combat Vehicle. The deployment will be synchronized with upgrades, reset and divestiture of existing vehicles. Vehicles displaced by the IFV may then replace selected M113 family of vehicles such as command and control, medical evacuation, and mortar carrier, allowing the Army to begin divestiture of the M113 family of vehicles. Upgrades to existing Bradley andStryker vehicles may be considered as risk mitigation based on the rate at which the GCV is introduced.[24][25] Although upgraded, the Bradley and Stryker would also be replaced in the midterm.[24][edit]Infantry Fighting VehicleMain article: GCV Infantry Fighting VehicleThe Infantry Fighting Vehicle supersedes the previous infantry carrier replacement effort, the XM1206 Infantry Carrier Vehicle of the FCS MGV program.[2] It is the U.S. Army's intention that the IFV replace the M113 APC by 2018, the M2 Bradley later, and the Stryker ICV in the midterm.[24][26] The IFV will hold a crew of three and a squad of nine.[6][edit]Self-propelled howitzerA House of Representatives report in 2009 directed the Department of Defense to create a program for the development of a self-propelled howitzer for the U.S. Army.[27][edit]Secondary vehicleA "secondary vehicle" is listed on the "Work Breakdown Structure" document. So far, no details have been released as to the function or specifications of this vehicle.[28]