The Army is not known for its ability to rapidly acquire new technologies, and expensive, sophisticated platforms such as tanks, aircraft and trucks often end up on the chopping block when drastic cost savings need to be made.
The ultra light combat vehide could be the exception to that rule. Although not yet a program of record, or even a stated requirement, Army officials believe they can move procurement efforts from first solicitation to initial operating capability in just three years.
If everything goes to plan, the Army could field about 300 ultra light combat vehicles by the end of fiscal year 2016, said Lt. Col. Kevin Parker, light branch chief of the mounted requirements division at the Maneuver Center of Excellence in Fort Benning, Georgia. The new trucks would give infantry brigade combat teams a brand new capability--the option of driving a vehicle from place to place rather than having to walk there.
But all of that relies on many factors, including when and if Army acquisition officials assign a program executive office to acquire a vehicle and whether the money is available in the fiscal year 2016 budget, said Carl Pignato, a light combat vehide analyst at the mounted requirements division.
"If everything lines up and everybody's on board as directed, we can move very quickly on this," he said. "We have demonstrated that."
The Atmy put out a solicitation for a ULCV on Jan. 22, 2014 and conducted demonstrations six months later at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. "That's lightning speed in today's acquisition world," he said.
The Army wants to procure the first 300 vehicles to meet the "critical needs" of the global response force, a mission that is usually performed by the 82nd airborne division, Parker said.
"The way we're going to deploy these is very similar to [mine resistant ambush protected vehicles]," he said. "The MRAPs aren't resident in units. There's a pool that they're drawn from. We're using that same kind of thought process for this. No one in the Army is interested in motorizing the infantry brigade combat teams. But we are interested in having the capability to selectively motorize when it's required."
The service is also considering the purchase of a second increment of ULCVs that would be stationed at Army installations responsible for training infantry. Whether that happens depends on the availability of funding, Parker said. The Maneuver Center of Excellence is in the process of determining how many vehicles...