The first public demonstration of military vehicles under the American MPF program
April 23, 2020, during a visit by US Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy to General Dynamics Ground System (GDLS, part of General Dynamics) and BAE Systems in Detroit, the first prototypes of competing tracked combat vehicles presented under the Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) program were first publicly demonstrated cannon weapons of both developers.
Recall that the Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) program, launched by the US Army in 2015, provides for the creation of a tracked combat vehicle weighing no more than 32 tons at first (according to the latest data, the mass limit has been raised to 38 tons - although it may mean “short” tons), equipped with cannon weapons of 105 or 120 mm caliber and active defense complex. By design, MPF vehicles will have a higher level of operational and tactical mobility than Abrams tanks.
In December 2018, the U.S. Army issued BAE Systems and General Dynamics contracts for the development of competitively tracked combat vehicles under the MPF program in the amount of $ 375.9 and 335 million, respectively, each for the construction and delivery for testing of 12 prototypes of its own version of the MPF machine for stage of development work (Engineering, Manufacturing, and Development - EMD). The delivery of prototypes should be started after 14 months and completed after 18-19 months from the date of receipt of the contract - and now the first prototypes are shown to the US Army Secretary.
According to the results of comparative tests of prototypes, the US Army should make the final choice of a machine for serial production by the end of fiscal year 2021 and in 2022 fin. to issue an order to the selected contractor for the first pre-production batch of 26 cars with an option for the second pre-production batch of 28 cars. Full-scale serial production is expected from 2025 fin. of the year. Current plans for the US Army include the purchase of 504 serial MPF machines.
First of all, these machines should go to equip the companies planned for the formation of individual companies (staffing the company is 14 vehicles) in infantry brigades (Infantry Brigade Combat teams - IBCT). The introduction of such a company into each of the 33 infantry brigades of the regular army and the National Guard is supposed, the first such company should achieve combat readiness in 2025 fin. year.
BAE Systems offers under this program the reincarnation of the famous M8 Armored Gun Systems (AGS) Buford, developed by FMC (then United Defense, now part of BAE Systems) at the turn of the 1980s and 1990s to replace the M551 Sheridan light tank, primarily in the airborne formations. In 1995, the M8 tank was adopted by the U.S. Army, but in 1997 the M8 program was canceled before the start of mass production due to reduced military spending. Only six M8 models were built. The light tank M8 had a combat weight of 19 to 25 tons, depending on the version of the interchangeable protection kit, and was equipped with a 105 mm M35 gun in a remote installation with an automatic loader. Judging by the first prototype of the M8-based MPF machine publicly demonstrated during the visit of the US Army Secretary to the BAE Systems facility, the updated version of the machine has enhanced armor reservation and gun installation.
Under the MPF program, General Dynamics offers a completely new development of the Griffin II vehicle based on the Griffin I prototype demonstrator shown several years ago, which was the installation of a modified lightweight turret of the M1A2SEPv2 Abrams tank with the new 120 mm XM360 cannon on the ASCOD 2 chassis used in the new British caterpillar Ajax combat reconnaissance vehicle (ASCOD 2 developers and manufacturers are European companies owned by General Dynamics - Spanish General Dynamics European Land Systems Santa Bárbara Sistemas and Austrian General Dynamics European Land Systems - Steyr). The total mass of the tower in Griffin I was reduced from 22 tons (for the M1A2 SEPv.2 tank) to supposedly only 8 tons, and the total mass of the Griffin I was declared to be “less than 30 tons” (according to a number of publications - 27-28 tons).
At the same time, according to a number of publications, the Griffin II combat mass reaches exactly the indicated maximum MPF 38 tons. You can see that on Griffin II the tower again returned to almost “normal” sizes for the main tank - including through the installation of very impressive modular reservation blocks.
Also, the U.S. Army Minister at the GDLS facility was shown (also for the first time publicly) a prototype Griffin III infantry fighting vehicle (on the same platform), presented by the company at a recent failed competition under the US Army's Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) program to replace the current U.S. fleet BMP M2 Bradley (now this program is restarted), and the chassis of a prototype demonstrator of a TL1 crewless tracked combat platform under the US Army Robotic Combat Vehicle-Medium (RCV-M) program. In addition, there was one of the prototypes of the GDLS MUTT (Multi-Utility Tactical Transport) land-based light wheeled light vehicle transport platform, which was already repeatedly demonstrated since 2014, under the US Army Squad Multipurpose Equipment Transport (SMET) program.
Griffin II combat vehicle
, developed by General Dynamics under the US Army's Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) Combat vehicle based on the M8 light tank
, developed by BAE Systems under the US Army's Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) Griffin III
infantry fighting vehicle developed by the General Dynamics Ground System (GDLS) under the US Army Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) program.