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Army wants final proposals for driverless fighting vehicle to replace Bradleys

M2A2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle. (U.S. Army Reserve photo by Spc. DeAndre Pierce)
December 18, 2020

The Army is seeking a new armored vehicle to replace the Bradley Fighting Vehicle that can be operated either by a human or remotely as a drone vehicle. On Friday it released the final request for proposal (RFP) for the vehicle, designated the “Optionally-Manned Fighting Vehicle” (OMFV).

The new RFP is a revised version of an earlier request, issued in July, asking the defense industry to conceptualize the new armored vehicle. The Army first announced the OMFV program in 2018, as part of its Next Generation Combat Vehicles program and said its intended goal is to replace the M-2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV), which has been in service since 1981.

“During the concept design phase, innovative thinking from industry remains key,” Brig. Gen. Glenn Dean, the program executive officer for Ground Combat Systems, said in an emailed statement to American Military News. “We are looking forward to receiving proposals from industry that demonstrate the realm of the possible as we continue to develop this truly transformational vehicle for our Soldiers.”

Dean said the Army revised its new proposal request, based on feedback from its original July RFP. 

“The team made significant changes to the RFP since the July 2020 draft release, based on a great deal of feedback received from industry,” said Dean. “Some of the changes reflect a reduction in scope and deliverables in order to adequately match the maturity of requirements in this phase of the program. We really do not want to box industry into a solution – we want them to think creatively to bring innovative technologies and solutions forward to achieve our vision for this program.”

Brig. Gen. Ross Coffman, director of the Next Generation Combat Vehicles Cross Functional Team said, “This is a major step forward for our Army, as we bring a transformational change to our infantry forces. We have asked our industry partners to bring us their very best ideas and we are anxious to see those ideas begin to take shape through this RFP.”

In terms of manning, the Army expects a platoon of the OMFVs to be able to deploy 30 soldiers onto the battlefield. When crewed by human personal, the Army wants the crew to consist of  “no more than two Soldiers who will be positioned in the hull.” The Army states, on board squad members “can perform crew duties prior to dismounting the OMFV but the vehicles must remain operational after dismounting” and “the OMFV should allow commanders to choose between manned or remote operation based on the tactical situation.”

In addition to being manned by either an internal human crew or remotely, the Army has also emphasized survivability, lethality, mobility, and upgradability for the new vehicle.

The Army states the OMFV should be able to sustain attacks from modern direct fire, indirect fire, and blast threats while also reducing the potential to be detected by minimizing its thermal, visual, and acoustic profile. 

The Army expects the vehicle to be able to fight against soldiers, enemy fighting vehicles, helicopters, small unmanned aerial systems, and tanks of a future near-peer enemy. The OMFV would be expected to fight those various adversaries across both urban and open rural terrain.

The Army is seeking a vehicle that can operate in both urban and rural terrain. The Army states the OMFV “must traverse 80% of Main Supply Routes (MSRs), national highways, and bridges in pacing threat countries, and reduce the cost of logistics and maintenance.” The Army said the OMFV must also be transportable worldwide through standard inter and intra-theater sea, waterway, air, rail, and road transportation.

The Army also wants the OMFV candidates to be vehicles that can be upgraded going forward and feature manufacturing that reduces the time and costs for repairs.