No surprise: the army’s new light tank will make Russian generals sweat

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The US Army’s brewing plan to re-enter the light tank field – The United States Army is about to take another step in the field of light tanks, although it is not keen to call its new armored vehicle a “light tank”. Developed under the “Mobile Protected Firepower” (MPF) program, this new armored vehicle is now on the verge of mass production.

New light tank: MPF contract awarded

On June 28, the US Army officially awarded General Dynamics Land Systems a contract to mass-produce the MPF light tank. While the military plans to procure 504 units of the vehicle by 2035, General Dynamic’s $1.4 billion contract is for a first batch of 96 vehicles. Currently, the Army expects to receive the first examples in just under two years and to have enough to equip a battalion by 2025. General Dynamic Land System’s main competitor for the MPF contract was BAE Systems, whose offer would have been withdrawn. of a review months before the final decision is made public.

The MPF field was narrowed down to General Dynamics and BAE proposals in 2018, after which the models were subjected to soldier vehicle evaluation to assess their effectiveness and integration into infantry brigade combat team formations . With development managed by the U.S. Army Futures Command’s Next Generation Combat Vehicle Cross-Functional Team, the MPF is the command’s first project to go into production and the first redesigned vehicle to enter service in 40 years. .

What is the MPF light tank capable of?

The winning design of the General Dynamics Land System contract is known as the Griffin II. Although it weighs just over half the weight of an M1A2 Abrams, the MPF’s turret and fire control system borrow heavily from the Abrams’ design. The tank is equipped with a main gun of 105 mm as well as two external machine guns of caliber 7.62 mm and .50. With a crew of four and an exterior appearance that closely mimics that of a tank, the Griffin II’s chassis is based on the ASCOD armored vehicle system jointly developed in Spain and Austria. Army leaders tend to discourage the use of the term “light tank” to describe the MPF, as they seek to discourage the employment of the MPF as a tank. According to the US military, the MPF was not designed to engage other tanks in combat or be used in the same set of missions that would be applied to an actual tank such as the Abrams.

What is the intended role of the MPF light tank?

At its core, the MPF is designed to fill a specific niche. This is to provide offensive fire support to infantry brigade combat teams. Currently, US infantry brigade combat teams have only a selection of light tactical vehicles equipped with TOW anti-tank missiles as composite armored firepower support. The origins of the MPF project go back to a statement of operational requirements submitted by the 82n/a Airborne division that identified an urgent need for a vehicle capable of supporting infantry brigade combat teams in conducting offensive actions.

Although still relatively new to approval, the MPF enters service at a time when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has shown that armored vehicles still have a major role in modern warfare when properly employed. Production of the system will now continue, giving the first MPF infantry units in the years to come.

Wesley Culp is a researcher at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress. He writes regularly on Russian and Eurasian leadership and national security topics and has been published in The Hill as well as the Diplomatic Courier. It can be found on Twitter @WesleyJCulp.

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