DoD Buzz | Bradley Replacement to Outweigh Abrams Tank

The Army’s high-priority battle wagon, the Ground Combat Vehicle, is likely to weigh as much as 84 tons, making it the heaviest armored vehicle on the battlefield.

The new weight estimate, released by the Congressional Budget Office, mean that the service’s replacement for the outdated Bradley fighting vehicle would be heavier than an M1 Abrams tank and weigh more than two current Bradleys.

The CBO latest working paper, “Technical Challenges of the U.S. Army’s Ground Combat Vehicle Program,” makes the GVC resemble overly ambitious Army programs that failed in the past such the Comanche attack helicopter, the Crusader self-propelled howitzer and the family of super vehicles under the failed Future Combat Systems program.

Even at that weight, the CBO maintains that the GCV “would still need to employ new electromechanical active protection systems to meet the Army’s survivability goal.”

The Army intends to replace about 40 percent of the Bradleys in its heavy combat brigades with GVCs. The Army issued a revised RFP in November 2010 after the initial solicitation were deemed too ambitious and created a real possibility that high technical risks and immature technologies would lead to spiraling costs and schedule delays.

via DoD Buzz | Bradley Replacement to Outweigh Abrams Tank.


While the eventual GCV program vehicle will likely weigh a lot less than 84 tons (probably closer to 65), it’s still astonishing that the acquisition side of the Army hasn’t put a wooden stake through the heart of this yet.

Weight is money.  It costs in development, manufacturing, procurement, maintenance, spares, operations and fuel.  And allowing the weight of the GCV to bloat like this is fundamentally stupid. As programs grow, there’s an inevitable desire to add to the program. After all, if you’re spending that much money per vehicle, you might as well add “X” or whatever fad of the moment.  For instance, the decision to add an active protection system is likely driven more by the sunk cost of the basic vehicle than anything else. And yet that drives up the sunk cost of the vehicle, which means the demand for greater capability increases.

The Bradley does (eventually) need to be replaced. It is relatively thinly armored. Its 25mm main gun is lacking in penetration for more modern opponent armored threats- I’d like to see a 40mm main gun myself- and its capacity for growth is very limited. What started as a 26 ton vehicle with a 500hp engine, is now almost 40 tons with only a 600hp engine. That makes them pretty sluggish, and the running gear can only support so much weight. Further, there’s very little room left for adding the networking and sensors that are absolutely essential on today’s modern battlefield. And finally, the Bradley only carries 6 or 7 dismounts.*

So the decision to accommodate 9 dismounts in the GCV is the correct one. One presumes as well that there will be an upgrade to the main gun as well as providing more electrical power and a more streamlined integration of the future electronic suite. But can’t we achieve something like that with modest improvements in armor at something closer to 50 tons, than 65? Or 84?

*Realistically, 4 or 5 dismounts on each Bradley is more common, both because of personnel shortages, and lack of internal space.

8 thoughts on “DoD Buzz | Bradley Replacement to Outweigh Abrams Tank”

  1. Ground mobility? 84 tons will kill this thing’s ability to move anywhere. Not sure if an AVLB can support it, as my google is currently inop. I know canal roads such as in Iraq will collapse under that. Fuel costs? Hate to see the diesel monster that can move this, though the Crusader’s engine was close.
    *I am generally able to keep seven squads of infantry per company, although short-manned.*

  2. Acquisition Corps can not kill it.

    Has to come from the JROC and FT Benning as the requirements generator.

    Acquisition Corps executes when mission is handed to them.

    You have to kill it while it is in the cradle…and right now that rests between TRADOC, OSD & Congress.

  3. In the real world, this would be ground for many “Relief for Cause” OER and NCOER’s to be handed out to the green suiters in the program. 85 tons? Hitler’s Maus was 100 tons. This shows that the program office has lost it’s mind.

  4. Don’t forget the DIVADS (Sgt York), and the Comanche relative, the Cheyenne (sp). A system of near unimpeachable appropriations folks with absolute yay/nay power and our Defense Budget would be so much more efficient. The ideas start out fine, the delivery of the final product at, or under budget (never mind what that final product looks like compared to the “idea”), is where there is such a shortfall.

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