US Army continuing de-modernization and sticking with incremental upgrades to Abrams and other vehicles

The US Army was twice burned (at least) since 2009 by cancellations of ambitious and innovative, but ultimately impracticable programs.

The Army now has incremental low risk technology modernization programs:

  • improving the M1 Abrams tank and M2 Bradley troop carrier,
  • rebuilding the M109 Paladin howitzer with an all-new automotive system,
  • and building the new Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV), a utility workhorse that’s basically a Bradley without a turret.

“The level of investment in my portfolio is unacceptably low,” said a blunt Maj. Gen. David Bassett, the Army’s Program Executive Officer for Ground Combat Systems. “Sometimes I’m asked, ‘do you really think it’s a good idea to keep the Abrams tank until 2050?’ No, (but) you develop a strategy for the resources that you have…. What we haven’t done is give you a strategy for the resources that we don’t have.”

“We now have upgrades for every single platform in the ABCT (Armored Brigade Combat Team) just about ready to go,” said Bassett. “Those systems today are nearly shovel ready, ready for production dollars, and we can turn industry on to produce them.” There are parallel programs with the medium-weight, eight-wheel-drive Stryker armored vehicle, which is gradually getting automotive upgrades and heavier guns. If Trump and Congress provide more funding than planned — which isn’t guaranteed — then the Army can just dial up production and modernize brigades faster.

The problem with this plan is that “at the end of this period — however long it lasts — this rebuilding period… the Army will still be relying on the technologies and the platforms that were introduced in the 1980s,” countered Thomas Spoehr, a retired Army three-star and director of defense programs at the influential Heritage Foundation. “Absent some change, the Army’s going to continue down the path of de-modernization.”

SOURCES – Breaking Defense

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