Military and Strategic Journal
Issued by the Directorate of Morale Guidance at the General Command of the Armed Forces
United Arab Emirates
Founded in August 1971

2024-07-05

Tanks Reforged: Innovation Drives Armoured Might

The evolving global geopolitical landscape has underscored the importance of armoured vehicles in modern warfare. In response, the U.S. and its allies are investing US$5 billion annually to modernise their fleets, driving growth and innovation in the defence sector.
 
The global armoured vehicles market is poised for substantial growth, projected to rise from US$29.9 billion in 2023 to US$36.9 billion in 2028, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.3 per cent. 
 
This robust growth is driven by several factors, including global modernisation efforts as nations update their military capabilities to address contemporary security challenges, rapid technological advancements that enhance the capabilities, operational efficiency, and survivability of armoured vehicles, the evolving nature of future threats such as asymmetric and cyber warfare that necessitate advanced armoured solutions, and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, which underscores the critical role of armoured vehicles and spurs further investments.
 
Regional Market Distribution
The global armoured vehicles market shows varying growth dynamics and defence priorities across regions. Europe is expected to be the largest market, accounting for 33 per cent of the total share between 2023 and 2028, driven by military modernisation and proximity to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. 
The Asia Pacific region is predicted to grow the fastest, with a 9.6 per cent CAGR, fuelled by increased counter-terrorism efforts and rising defence budgets in India and China. North America is forecasted to hold a 25 per cent share, reflecting investment in advanced military technologies and modernisation programmes. 
 
The Middle East is poised to have a six per cent share due to regional security concerns and modernisation, while Africa is projected to account for five per cent, influenced by security needs and development challenges. South America is estimated to have a one per cent share, with growth constrained by economic and political factors.
 
Important Factors
Key factors driving the market include North America’s technological leadership, led by the U.S., which invests heavily in armoured vehicle R&D, resulting in state-of-the-art systems. The U.S. is the foremost global exporter of military vehicles, with high demand for platforms such as the Abrams tank, JLTV, and Humvees. 
 
Distribution of Equipment Categories
The breakdown of the armoured vehicles market by equipment category reveals diverse investment priorities and technological focus areas:
 
Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs): Expected to account for the largest share by monetary value, 29 per cent, reflecting their critical role in modern mechanised infantry operations.
 
Main Battle Tanks (MBTs): Projected to represent 26 per cent of the market, underscoring their importance in conventional warfare and deterrence strategies.
 
Tactical and Support Vehicles: Estimated to hold a 24 per cent share, highlighting the necessity for versatile support vehicles in various military operations.
Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs): Predicted to account for 13 per cent, essential for troop transport and protection.
 
Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs): Expected to represent two per cent, indicating growing interest in autonomous and remote-controlled combat solutions.
Mine-Resistant Armoured Protected Vehicles (MRAPs): Projected to have a two per cent share, emphasising the need for protection against improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and mines.
 
Counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems (C-UAS): Estimated to account for two per cent, reflecting the increasing threat from drones and the necessity for effective countermeasures.
Light Multi-role Vehicles (LMVs): Predicted to hold a one per cent share, useful for a variety of military tasks requiring mobility and versatility.
 
Major Procurement Programmes
Armoured vehicle modernisation programmes are pursued by militaries worldwide to enhance the capabilities and lifespan of their existing fleets in response to evolving threats. The U.S. is actively engaged in several major armoured vehicle procurement initiatives. 
 
Let’s delve into a detailed analysis of various U.S. Army programmes:
 
Next-Generation Combat Vehicles (NGCV)
The U.S. Army’s NGCV programme aims to develop a new family of optionally manned combat vehicles with cutting-edge technologies for enhanced battlefield performance. 
In collaboration with the Combat Capabilities Development Command Ground Vehicle Systems Center, Programme Executive Office – Ground Combat Systems, and industry partners, the NGCV Cross-Functional Team (CFT) aims to replace ageing combat vehicles with more capable options and introduce unprecedented speed, range, and reliability. 
The CFT prioritises soldier protection in infantry fighting vehicles and other platforms, ensuring agility, durability, and adaptability in diverse environments. Using a Modular Open Systems Approach, it standardises interfaces for continuous modernisation and cost-effective integration of new capabilities.
 
Enhanced Operational Capabilities
The U.S. Army is upgrading its fleet by replacing the ageing M113 Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) with Armoured Multi-Purpose Vehicles (AMPVs) from BAE Systems. Based on the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle chassis without a combat turret, AMPVs enhance operational capabilities and survivability for the Armoured Brigade Combat Team (ABCT). 
Procuring approximately 2,743 units at a cost of US$19.8 billion, the programme began low-rate initial production in 2019 and saw its first delivery in August 2020. This modernisation effort aims to provide improved protection, mobility, and versatility compared to the M113, crucial for enhanced operational effectiveness. 
The Army has prioritised AMPV for soldier safety and survivability, utilising elements from the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle and M109A7 self-propelled howitzer to maintain fleet commonality. 
 
BAE Systems received a full-rate production contract in August 2023 to sustainably manufacture the AMPV Family of Vehicles (FoV), comprising variants like General Purpose, Mortar Carrier, Mission Command, Medical Treatment, and Medical Evacuation vehicles. AMPV represents a mature, cost-effective solution that rapidly bolsters the Army’s combat capabilities, ultimately replacing the M113 across its armoured formations.
 
Stryker Procurement Plan
According to the Department of Defence’s 2024 budget request, the ongoing Stryker tracked combat vehicle upgrade involves procuring 923 vehicles at a cost of US$4.7 billion from 2023 to 2028. 
General Dynamics Land Systems, Oshkosh Defense, Rafael, and Pratt Miller have been awarded the contract. Enhancements include Northrop Grumman’s XM813 Bushmaster Chain Gun, a customised turret from Rafael’s Samson family, and a dual-feed ammunition handling system. 
 
The Stryker has served as the Army’s primary combat and combat support vehicle since the early 2000s, with improvements made for lethality, mobility, and survivability based on combat experience. 
 
Currently, the Stryker Family of Vehicles includes 26 variants, with ongoing efforts to enhance the lethality of the Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle Double-V Hull A1 30-millimeter cannon variant, formerly known as the Stryker MCWS variant.
 
Amphibious Combat Vehicle Family of Vehicles (ACV)
The Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) programme aims to replace the U.S. Marine Corps’ ageing Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAVs) in service since 1972. Designed for tactical mobility both at sea and ashore, the ACV offers ground mobility and speed akin to the M1A1 tank. The programme includes four variants: Personnel (ACV-P), Command and Control (ACV-C), Recovery, and a 30-mm Gun Variant. 
 
The ACV-P can transport three crew members, 13 marines, equipment, and supplies for two days. The ACV-C supports Command and Control functions with onboard workstations.
The ACVs provide precise supporting fires and force protection against blasts. BAE Systems, in partnership with Iveco Defence Vehicles, began delivering the first 30 vehicles in 2019 after entering the Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) phase in June 2018. Achieving Initial Operating Capability (IOC) in November 2020, the programme moved to Full-Rate Production (FRP) soon after, with a procurement objective of 630 units, down from the initial 1,122 units planned. 
Manufacturing takes place across BAE Systems’ facilities in Virginia, California, Michigan, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania. The ACV programme underscores BAE Systems’ legacy and expertise in amphibious vehicles, marking significant improvements over the older AAVs.
 
XM30 Mechanised Infantry Combat Vehicle (MICV)
The U.S. Army is looking to replace its fleet of M-2 Bradley IFVs with the new XM30 Mechanised Infantry Combat Vehicle (MICV) (known earlier as Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicles (OMFVs)). The Bradleys have been in service since 1981 and have gone through many cycles of modernisation. However, they have now reached their technological limits in terms of force projection and defence capabilities.
The MICV is the third programme to replace the M-2 Bradley, with the first two, the Future Combat System (FCS) programme and the Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) programme, cancelled due to high costs.  
 
Last year, a contract for prototypes was awarded to two vendors: General Dynamics Land Systems Inc. and American Rheinmetall Vehicles LLC. The two vendors will prepare prototypes of a vehicle to replace the M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle, which is a tracked vehicle designed for reconnaissance and provides protection, transportation and small-arms firepower for squad elements. The total award value for both contracts is approximately US$1.6 billion.
 
The XM30 will replace the Bradley fighting vehicle, bringing new transformational capabilities to the fight; these will include improvements to lethality, Soldier-vehicle survivability, and upgrade ability beyond the physical and economic limits of the Bradley, the modular open system architecture that the XM30 will allow new building technology to be added to the vehicle as that technology matures, ensuring an overwhelming advantage in any potential adversary competition.
The XM30 will also be designed with sustainability and mobility in mind as it will feature a hybrid electric powertrain, which will reduce power consumption. 
 
M1A1 Abrams Modernisation
In December 2017, General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) secured a US$2.6 billion contract to upgrade up to 786 of the U.S. Army’s M1A1 Abrams tanks to the M1A2 SEPv3 standard. 
The upgrades include enhanced turret and hull armour, mine blast protection, reactive armour tiles, lightweight belly armour, and advanced counter-mine equipment. The SEPv3 features a TIGER engine, upgraded transmission, Auxiliary Power Unit (APU), and improved power systems. It also incorporates an Ammunition Data Link (ADL), embedded training systems, Blue Force Tracker, and second-generation Forward Looking Infra-Red (FLIR) technology. Enhanced computer systems with Line Replaceable Modules (LRMs), high-definition displays, increased memory, Gigabit Ethernet, and a new operating system for the Common Operating Environment (COE) are included. 
 
Follow-up contracts in 2019 and 2020 worth US$714 million and US$4.6 billion were awarded to GDLS. In April 2024, GDLS received a US$21.9 million contract modification for technical support, with work expected to complete by January 2025. The Army plans to field up to 2,278 SEPv3 tanks.
 
M10 Booker Combat Vehicle
The U.S. Army’s Infantry Brigade Combat Teams (IBCT) lack mobile, protected long-range firepower. To address this, the Army issued an RFP for the Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase in November 2017, awarding US$376 million rapid prototyping contracts to GDLS and BAE Systems Land and Armaments in December 2018. GDLS delivered prototypes in December 2020, with BAE following in March 2021. 
 
Low-rate production has commenced, with the first vehicles expected in 2025. The Army plans to procure 504 units, with 351 ordered by 2028, and operational testing beginning in late 2024 or early 2025. The programme’s total obligation stands at US$5.2 billion.
Rebranded as the M10 Booker in June 2023, the vehicle features a 105mm cannon and 7.62mm coaxial machine gun, capable of firing Armour-Piercing Discarding Sabot (APDS) and High-Explosive (HE) rounds. It includes a conventional design, advanced fire control systems from the M1 Abrams, and additional armour for IED protection. The turret, located at the rear, accommodates a crew of three.
 
Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV)
The U.S. Army’s Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) programme aims to replace a significant portion of the light tactical wheeled vehicle fleets across all services with around 49,099 vehicles of various configurations. Oshkosh Defense was contracted for 16,901 vehicles in August 2015, including orders for the Marine Corps.
Despite international interest, the British Army cancelled its 2,747 JLTV order due to cost and delivery issues. Lithuania proceeded with 500 vehicles for US$170.8 million, first delivered in August 2021.
 
The JLTV enhances survivability, payload capacity, and performance compared to the Humvee. It features a four-seater for general roles and a two-seater for utility missions, adaptable with four mission package configurations. Offering protection akin to MRAP vehicles, advanced suspension for rough terrain, and increased payload capacity, it integrates with C4ISR systems.
 
Full-rate production began in June 2019. AM General LLC received an US$8.66 billion contract for 20,682 JLTVs and 9,883 trailers in February 2023. Oshkosh Defense secured a US$208 million order in November 2023 for JLTVs and trailers.
 
Tactical and Support Vehicles: Joint Assault Bridge
The Joint Assault Bridge (JAB) is a specialised military engineering vehicle designed primarily to provide armoured bridging capabilities in combat environments. It serves as a crucial asset for mechanised and armoured units, enabling them to rapidly deploy and establish temporary or permanent crossings over obstacles such as rivers, ditches, and large gaps.
The JAB, part of Mobility Augmentation Companies supporting Armoured Brigade Combat Teams, offers a survivable, deployable, and sustainable heavy-assault-bridging capability. It facilitates gap-crossing, both wet and dry, and enhances battlefield manoeuvrability to align with Abrams Heavy Brigade Combat Team operations.
Built on the M1A1 Abrams tank chassis with heavy (M1A2) suspension, the JAB integrates a hydraulic bridge launcher system for the existing Military Load Class 85 Armoured Vehicle Launched Bridge (AVLB). This enhances force readiness, survivability, mobility, and agility compared to legacy systems.
 
The U.S. Army launched the Joint Assault Bridge programme in 2016 to replace the Wolverine and M48A5/M60 series chassis AVLB systems. Initially, a £400 million contract was awarded to DRS Technologies’ Sustainment Systems for overall production, M1A1 chassis assembly management, hydraulic bridge launcher production, and system integration.
Mounted on a tracked chassis, the JAB ensures mobility and stability essential for bridging operations across diverse terrain. Its advanced features, including hydraulically operated bridge laying mechanisms, enable rapid deployment and retrieval under combat conditions, reducing reliance on existing infrastructure and maintaining operational fluidity in varied landscapes. Thus, the JAB significantly enhances the operational effectiveness and tactical agility of armoured and mechanised forces during military engagements.
 
HMMWV: Enhancing Battlefield Flexibility 
Over the years, the High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) has undergone several upgrades to enhance its capabilities and survivability on the modern battlefield. 
These upgrades include improved armour protection against ballistic threats and improvised explosive devices (IEDs), upgraded suspension systems to handle heavier payloads, and the integration of advanced communication and electronic warfare systems. 
The vehicle’s modular design allows for quick reconfiguration to meet specific mission requirements, such as mounting heavy machine guns, missile launchers, or serving as a command-and-control centre.
 
The HMMWV’s operational flexibility has made it indispensable in a wide range of military roles, from frontline combat missions to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. Its versatility has also led to its adoption by numerous allied nations and security forces worldwide, underscoring its status as a globally recognised symbol of military mobility and effectiveness. 
 
Despite the emergence of newer tactical vehicles, the HMMWV continues to evolve through ongoing research and development efforts aimed at enhancing its performance, protection, and sustainability on the modern battlefield. The HMMWV programme remains pivotal in supporting the U.S. Army’s mission readiness and operational effectiveness in contemporary warfare scenarios.
 
The U.S. Army is looking to modernise its existing fleet of High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV) with the procurement of new configurations including the M1152A1s, M1165A1s, and HMMWV Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV). 
Overall, the HMMWV is a lightweight, tactical vehicle based on the M998 chassis common to all its configurations, allowing it to carry military equipment, including machine guns and anti-tank missile launchers. It is 15 feet long, 6 feet high, and 7 feet wide, with a gross weight of 7,700 pounds. At its maximum payload of 2,500 pounds, it can achieve a top speed of 65 mph. The Army is procuring 2,817 vehicles at a cost of around US$13.2 billion.
 
Future-Proofing Armoured Vehicles
The dynamic and evolving landscape of armoured vehicle technology demands continuous investment and innovation. The Armoured Vehicle USA conference, organised by the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement (IDGA) on June 24-25, provided a pivotal platform for discussing a wide array of armoured vehicle-related topics. 
The event encompassed strategic considerations, threat environments, challenges in maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO), lifecycle management, and the development of next-generation, optionally manned combat vehicles.
 
Key discussions at the conference highlighted future advancements such as the integration of advanced robotics, robust Counter-Unmanned Aerial System (C-UAS) capabilities, and the evolution of next-generation armoured platforms. These developments are crucial for maintaining a strategic advantage in modern warfare scenarios .
 

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