Specifically, the Army will take the Israeli Namer armored personnel carrier and the Swedish Combat Vehicle 90 (CV90), Col. Andrew DiMarco, GCV project manager, told reporters at the Association of the U.S. Army winter symposium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
The assessments are part of the Army’s look at existing vehicles that may meet the service’s need for a new infantry fighting vehicle.
If you’re looking to build an entire new generation of vehicles to replace the Bradley family, it makes a good deal of sense to see what the current state of the art is, and take a few other folks tracks for a test drive.
The Israeli Namer is fundamentally the chassis and powerplant of a late model Merkava tank transformed into an armored personnel carrier.
While that gives great survivability to the vehicle, it isn’t without its costs. First, it means quite a heavy vehicle, at a time when the Army would love to see combat vehicle weights come down. Heavier vehicles cost more to build, they use more fuel, and they impose transportation costs. The Israelis can afford those costs, for the most part. They don’t need to transport a dozen brigades worth of vehicles halfway across the world as fast as possible. They just have to drive a dozen miles to their war zone. Nonetheless, the losses of personnel carriers to IEDs and mines is foremost in the minds of Army planners, and survivability will be a key factor in the next vehicle chosen.
The Swedish CV90 is a more traditional infantry fighting vehicle, with a modular armor system, and in Swedish service, armed with a Bofors 40mm gun. The 25mm M242 Bushmaster of the Bradley is a fine gun, but it is getting to be on the light side for penetrating armor. The trend has been for infantry carriers to get heavier, and the Army has long wanted a bigger gun. Whether they decide to go all the way to a 40mm gun, or take an intermediate 30mm or 35mm gun remains to be seen. You want the smallest possible gun that will defeat all likely targets, as it imposes less weight penalty, gives a higher rate of fire, and carries more ammo than a larger gun.
I doubt the Army will order an off the shelf vehicle. But I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if the GCV program, if it ever advances, has several characteristics in common with both these vehicles.