U.S. Army Secretary Mark Esper has revealed a critical upgrade needed by the country’s largest military branch. According to Esper, the Army’s Next Generation Combat Vehicle (NGGV) will involve the development of a new infantry fighting vehicle that provides capability with the Army’s existing armored formations.
Of course, the U.S Army’s primary infantry fighting vehicle is currently the Bradley Fighting Vehicle (BFV). Originally rolled out for service in the 1980s, the BFV has become a key asset used by the Army. Its primary purposes include infantry transportation, core fire and protection. There have been several variations of the BFV since its inception, the most common of which include the M2 Bradley and B3 Bradley. The M2 supports a maximum of three crew members, including a commander, gunner and driver, as well as a half-dozen infantry soldiers. The M3, on the other hand, supports a maximum of three crew members but without the added space for additional infantry. instead, it uses this space for weapons like the BGM-71 TOW missiles.
The BFV isn’t without its flaws. Military officials say it’s too bulky and not fitted with the right equipment for today’s combat needs. Because of this, they are seeking to replace it with a new infantry fighting vehicle, dubbed the NGGV.
Surprisingly, though, the U.S. Army has attempted to replace the BFV in the past. The Army launched the GCV program nearly a decade ago in hopes of developing a new, more versatile infantry fighting vehicle. This project was ultimately scrapped, putting the Army back at square one. It appears that the Army is taking another shot at it, however, as Esper has confirmed that a new vehicle is in the works.
So, why did the Army stop development of the GCV program? Reports show that the Army didn’t have the necessary funds for the project. After budget cuts were made, the Army had about one-fifth of the money that it had requested for the new infantry fighting vehicle. Without the necessary funds, the Army was forced to postpone the project.
“This is an exciting time as the Army faces many challenges. It’s going to take a great deal of leadership. It’s going to take tough decision-making. It’s going to take persistence by me and my leadership team,” said Esper when discussing the new infantry fighting vehicle.
Although the Army hasn’t announced an official date for the new NGGV, officials say the first batch of prototypes will likely be delivered by 2019.