Preparing for future battlefields: The Next Generation Combat Vehicle

By: Bob Purtiman, NGCV Cross-Functional Team

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An M2A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle crew changes position on the range during gunnery training at the Doña Ana Range Complex, N.M., Aug. 3, 2018. The Army is developing a new Next Generation Combat Vehicle as part of a concerted modernization strategy. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Winifred Brown )

WASHINGTON -- While our current combat fleet is composed of very capable vehicles, these vehicles have been in the inventory for decades and their ability to overmatch peer capabilities in close combat is starting to wane. As the Army prepares for future combat operations, it needs new platforms, with future growth margins, to maintain our ability to dominate the battlefield.

This is a challenge for the Next Generation Combat Vehicle Cross-Functional Team, or NGCV CFT, to solve. The NGCV CFT was established as part of the Army's modernization strategy and is currently led by Brig. Gen. Ross Coffman. The team consists of hand-selected military and civilian personnel, who are charged with narrowing or closing Cross Domain Maneuver capability gaps. The team is well supported by Program Executive Office-Ground Combat Systems and Research, Development and Engineering Command leaders and representatives. The CFT serves as the primary Army integrator for Under Secretary of the Army/Vice Chief of Staff of the Army and Army Requirements Oversight Council decision for all supporting analysis, modeling, simulation and technical demonstrations. The NGCV CFT director, on behalf of the USA/VCSA, synchronizes the capability development process, and then rapidly transitions the requirement to a leader-approved capability into the Army Acquisition System.

"The Army must maintain combat vehicle overmatch in close combat against current threats while taking actions necessary to ensure overmatch through 2050 and beyond," said Coffman. "The changing character of warfare and the acceleration of technology development drives changes in how the Army develops, delivers, employs, and sustains mounted close combat capabilities."

The ongoing efforts of the Next Generation Combat Vehicle Cross-Functional Team will be the focus of a Warrior's Corner presentation on Tuesday, Oct. 9 from 9:30-10:10 a.m. Eastern time as part of the Association of the United States Army annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

The current NGCV CFT portfolio encompasses the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle, or AMPV; Mobile Protected Firepower, or MPF; Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle, or OMFV; future robotic combat vehicles, or RCV; and the next generation main battle tank.

The AMPV and MPF are well on their way through the acquisitions process -- the AMPV is in Limited User Tests, and the Joint Requirements Oversight Council has recently approved the MPF's Capabilities Development Document. The team's current focus in on the OMFV, which will replace the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, while also overseeing the maturation of robotic combat vehicle and main battle tank technologies.

In future close combat formations, units equipped with NGCV must maneuver effectively in unrestricted, restricted, and dense urban terrain. The NGCV-OMFV will be designed to maneuver Soldiers in the future operating environment to a position of advantage to engage in close combat and deliver decisive lethality during the execution of combined arms maneuver. NGCV must exceed current capabilities while overmatching similar threat class systems. It must have the following capabilities:

  • Optionally manned. It must have the ability to conduct remotely controlled operations while the crew is off platform.
  • Capacity. It should eventually operate with no more than two crewmen and possess sufficient volume under armor to carry at least six Soldiers.
  • Transportability. Two OMFVs should be transportable by one C-17 and be ready for combat within 15 minutes.
  • Dense urban terrain operations and mobility. Platforms should include the ability to super elevate weapons and simultaneously engage threats using main gun and an independent weapons system.
  • Protection. It must possess requisite protection to survive on the contemporary and future battlefield.
  • Growth. It will possess sufficient size, weight, architecture, power, and cooling for automotive and electrical purposes to meet all platform needs and allow for pre-planned product improvements.
  • Lethality. It should apply immediate, precise and decisively lethal extended range medium caliber, directed energy, and missile fires in day/night all-weather conditions, while moving and/or stationary against moving and/or stationary targets. The platform should allow for mounted, dismount, and unmanned system target handover.
  • Embedded Platform Training. It should have embedded training systems that have interoperability with the Synthetic Training Environment.
  • Sustainability. Industry should demonstrate innovations that achieve breakthroughs in power generation and management to achieve increased operational range and fuel efficiency; increased silent watch, part and component reliability, and significantly reduced sustainment burden.

The CFT will ensure the Army operating force is equipped with Next Generation Combat Vehicles that overmatch pacing threats with decisive lethality, survivability, tactical mobility, and reduced logistical burdens. These vehicles, when combined with trained and technology-enabled crews, are essential to the Army's future battlefield success.

"The NGCV effort ties in with the efforts of other CFTs: Soldier Lethality, Network, Assured Positioning, Navigation, and Timing, Future Vertical Lift, and Long-Range Precision Fires," said Col. Warren Sponsler, NGCV CFT deputy director. "The future platform has capabilities which are enabled by assured position, navigation and timing and resilient networks that will enable future maneuver formations to execute semi-independent operations while conducting cross-domain maneuver against a peer adversary.

"The future operational environment will be increasingly lethal, competitive, complex, and dynamic -- characterized by a high potential for instability and the increased likelihood of close combat in dense urban and congested terrain," Sponsler added. "Our potential adversaries have studied the American way of war and our preference for engaging at extended ranges with greater accuracy. Accordingly, they are developing, and will employ, close combat platforms and weapon systems capable of engaging U.S. formations at equal or greater ranges and with direct fire accuracy equal to our own, coupled with accurate and massive artillery and rocket firepower."

The challenge for the NGCV CFT is to create the requirement that will keep with the junction of instability and disruptive technology that will erode the Army's post-Cold War comparative advantage.

"The end state for the Army is a generation of vehicles that are not only more lethal and survivable than current combat platforms but much smaller, lighter, and more fuel efficient," said Coffman. "The use of critical enabling and potentially disruptive technologies that are identified, developed, and integrated into operationally viable platform subsystems will enable the Army to provide Soldiers the best possible capability for the future."

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