The U.S. Army may soon have a new light tank at its disposal. Earlier this month, the Army announced that it selected two defense contractors to build and supply it with a new light tank. While the exact number is unknown, some reports estimate that the U.S. Army has more than 1,200 active tanks, most of which consist of Abrams-class tanks. As part of the U.S. military’s goal to modernize its operations, however, the Army is seeking a new light tank.
The Army hasn’t released many details about its new light tank, though it did say that BAE Systems and General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) will build it. The two defense contractors were awarded contracts valued at $375 million and $335 million. According to reports, BAE Systems and GDLS will each design and build a dozen prototype tanks.
Essentially, the Army will be receiving two different light tanks: one built by BAE Systems and another built by GDLS. With that said, the Army will likely only choose a single light tank to include in its fleet. Both of the defense contractors are expected to produce a dozen prototypes of their respective tank each. After delivering the prototypes to the Army, the Army will test them to see which one performs the best. And using this information, the Army will make its decision on which light tank to include in its fleet.
Neither the Army nor the defense contractors have released details of the two light tanks. However, we know that both types of light tanks will feature gun turrets. The light tank being produced by BAE Systems will actually feature a special type of gun turret, known as an M8 Gun Systems (AGS), that fires massive 105 mm rounds. The light tank being developed by GDLS will feature an even larger gun turret that fires 120 mm rounds.
When speaking about the new project, BAE Systems’s Deepak Bazaz explained that his company’s innovative technology can simplify the process of creating a small, compact tank. “Our offering integrates innovative technology that reduces the burden on the crew into a compact design deployable in areas that are hard to reach,” said Deepak Bazaz of BAE Systems in a press release. “We’re confident our design meets the requirements and the unique capabilities the IBCT needs.”
So, when can you expect the Army’s new light tank in action? Being that both defense contractors are still working on the prototypes, it may take several years at minimum.