Army to Meet with Firms Interested in Developing New Light Tank

An M551 Sheridan outside the the Vatican's embassy in 1989 during negotiations for Noriega's surrender before the combat vehicle was retired. The Army plans to meet with companies Aug. 9, 2016, to discuss the idea of developing a new light tank. (Photo courtesy of the Center of Military History)An M551 Sheridan outside the the Vatican's embassy in 1989 during negotiations for Noriega's surrender before the combat vehicle was retired. The Army plans to meet with companies Aug. 9, 2016, to discuss the idea of developing a new light tank. (Photo courtesy of the Center of Military History)

The U.S. Army plans to meet next week with firms to discuss the idea of developing a new light armored vehicle with mobile protected firepower.

The Army plans to hold a so-called industry day on Tuesday at Fort Benning in Georgia to discuss the requirements for such a vehicle, essentially a light tank, in the areas of lethality, mobility, protection, transportability, sustainability, energy and cyber, according to a statement released on Thursday from the service.

The MPF program “will be a lightweight combat vehicle that provides the Infantry Brigade Combat Team long range, precision direct fire capability that ensures freedom of movement and action during joint expeditionary maneuver and joint combined arms operations,” according to the statement.

Speaking at the event will be Maj. Gen. Eric Wesley, commanding general of the Maneuver Center of Excellence; Lt. Gen. John Murray, deputy chief of staff for programs (G8); Brig. Gen. David Bassett, program executive officer for ground combat systems; and Col. William Nuckols, director of the maneuver requirements division, according to the Army.

The service has been experimenting with ways to bring more firepower to soldiers.

Army officials recently conducted at Benning a live-fire demonstration of 30mm cannons mounted on the Light Armored Vehicle (Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle) and Flyer Advanced Light Strike Vehicle, both of which are made by General Dynamics Corp.

The exercise featured the ground mobility vehicle 1.1 prototype firing the M230-LF 30mm cannon and the light armored vehicle combat reconnaissance vehicle prototype with a Kongsberg turret firing an integrated MK44 30mm cannon.

The Army quietly canceled its Light Reconnaissance Vehicle program in June, opting instead to equip cavalry scout units with the more general-purpose Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, designed to replace a third of the Humvee fleet.

That decision came without notice after maneuver leaders held a two-week vehicle assessment at Benning last August involving six companies as part of a platform demonstration to evaluate prototypes from industry. Instead, the Army will equip scout units in infantry brigade combat teams with JLTVs with potential sensor and lethality upgrades, officials maintain.

–Matthew Cox contributed to this report.

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Brendan McGarry
Brendan McGarry is the managing editor of Military.com. He can be reached at brendan.mcgarry@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.