BAE Systems unveils new light tank for the US Infantry

Britain’s largest defense contractor, BAE Systems, has been awarded a $376 million contract for the supply of a new armored vehicle for the US Military.

The deal is for the development, engineering, and manufacturing phase of the Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) project, and rapid prototyping of the new vehicle along with some initial production options.

The vehicle was showcased at the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Global Force Symposium in Huntsville.

The solution proposed by BAE combines new technology along with existing, proven capability to produce a new fast, agile, armor-protected vehicle for Infantry Brigade Combat Teams.

This new platform will provide overwhelming but precise firepower in any of the terrains and operations within which the Infantry Brigades operate.

Deepak Bazaz, director of combat vehicles at BAE Systems, said that the company proposes to integrate innovative technology, that lifts the workload of the crew, into a vehicle designed to be compact and able to operate in any area that the infantry was deployed in, including those that are hard to reach.

He went on to say that BAE is aware of the unique requirements of infantry battalions and that they are supremely confident that their design will meet those requirements.

The US Government has issued two contracts, one to BAE Systems and the second to General Dynamics. Under their contract, BAE is to produce 12 prototype vehicles for evaluation by the military. A final supplier will be selected from the two companies.

The MPF designed by BAE is the baby of 30 years of dedicated research and development in the field of light combat vehicles that are rapidly deployable and optimized to support battalions of light infantry.

The new vehicle does not discard all that the military currently uses, and leverages the current investment that the Army has in the M8 Armored Gun System.

Those components of the M8 that are as valid today as they have been in the past—such as its low-profile design, and the M35 105mm cannon with its auto-loading ammunition system that allows the gun to fire at a rate of 12 rounds per minute—will all be retained, but enhanced, by new technologies developed by BAE.

The new and innovative design of a roll-out powerpack gives technicians easy access to the engine and transmission without the need for heavy lifting equipment to be used.

The compact design of the new vehicle allows for many of them to be deployed at once on a C-17, another plus factor in that it exceeds the transport requirements designated by the Army. Also, it is maintainable within the infantry battalion itself.

BAE also proposes scalable armor with ingenious subsystems to enhance the survivability of both the crew and vehicle on the battlefields of the future. This survivability is enhanced by the use of situational awareness systems that ensure the vehicle and crew are well positioned to survive anywhere.

This new system, developed by the Israeli company IMI Systems, is called Iron Fist and is fully automated. It uses radar to detect and track threats, and then takes steps to eliminate the threat.

Work on the new vehicles is being carried out across several of BAE’s manufacturing locations in York, Pennsylvania; Aiken, South Carolina; Sterling Heights, Michigan; and San Jose, California.