Big moves ahead on light tank, Bradley replacement and robot vehicles

by Tommy Grant

The Army’s ground combat forces will see three new vehicles arrive in 2024.

The service announced in mid-2023 it was naming the Mobile Protected Firepower Vehicle the M10 Booker, in honor of two brave soldiers who served in separate eras.

The Booker’s namesakes are both Staff Sgt. Devon A. Booker, a tanker who died while serving in the 2003 Iraq invasion, and Pvt. Robert D. Booker, an infantryman who died while serving in Tunisia in 1943 during World War II.

The light tank is “an armored vehicle that is intended to support our infantry brigade combat teams by suppressing and destroying fortifications, gun systems, entrenchments and, secondarily, then providing protection against enemy armored vehicles,” Maj. Gen. Glenn Dean, program executive officer for ground combat systems, told Defense News.

The first vehicles were delivered to the Army in November to undergo testing for planned fielding to the force in 2024.

General Dynamic Land Systems is under contract to deliver 26 vehicles initially, but the Army can buy up to 70 more Bookers during the initial production phase, Defense News reported.

Industry competitors are building prototypes of the XM30 Mechanized Infantry Fighting Vehicle. The XM30 is the Army’s replacement for the Bradley, a legacy platform that’s been in service since the early 1980s.

American Rheinmetall Vehicles and General Dynamics Land Systems were selected in 2023 out of five total bidders to continue with the program. They’re scheduled to deliver prototypes in late 2024.

Current plans call for the Army to select a winner by fiscal year 2027 and fielding to commence in fiscal year 2029.

A new light tank and fighting vehicle will help the ground forces add firepower and improve troop mobility. But to get after a host of new threats on a more complex future battlefield, the Army is also going after robotic vehicles to serve as “wingmen” for existing vehicle crews.

McQ, Textron Systems, General Dynamics Land Systems and Oshkosh Defense were selected in September by the Army to build Robotic Combat Vehicle-Light prototypes by August 2024 for the Army to review, Defense News reported.

The RCV-L will serve as a scout or escort for manned vehicles.

The service plans to pick one of the four companies in FY25 to continue to the second phase. That phase will require the company to deliver nine prototypes to the Army by FY26 and field the robotic vehicle by FY28.

Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.

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