2014/01/24

The GCV program is dead

.
The U.S.Army has failed to bring an armoured combat vehicle from scratch to service once again:
 

US Army Chief Confirms: Ground Combat Vehicle Is Dead (For Now)
defensenews.com
Probably what they hoped for - but not what the program yielded
  About the GCV: 2007-11 Ridiculous

"We know exactly what we want. We want a fast, highly mobile, fully armored, lightweight vehicle. It must be able to swim, cross any terrain, and climb 30 degree hills. It must be air-transportable. It must have a simple but powerful engine, requiring little or no maintenance. The operating range should be several hundred miles. We would also like it to be invisible."
General Bruce C. Clarke, 1960 (link)
The challenge is to be an adult and settle for what you can actually get in quantity.

They didn't succeed in this ever since they brought the Bradley/Abrams duo into service, and both those programs were riddled with poor decisions and performance during their development (and kept having major conceptual problems ever since*).
Only the U.S.Marine Corps bureaucracy is worse at procurement (their recently-cancelled EFV had a development history which began in 1973 and didn't produce a single in-service vehicle!)

This obvious bureaucratic inability to produce a desired and in the long term necessary output means that Europeans need to pick up the issue and succeed instead. And this surely doesn't mean the UK's MoD, which excels at gold-plating and turning even off-the shelf solutions into what's more expensive than all-new designs should be. A preliminary study for the UK MoD appears to be the equivalent of what used to be a completed Swedish development project.

The German industry focused recently on the Puma IFV, which may have delivered a fine base vehicle (but I'm not sure its armament or dismount strength are worthy of such an effort), but this too has been a rather slow and expensive affair. Italian vehicles appear to be of a relatively modest standard, French vehicle tend to be tailored to French ideas, Greek output is typically a modification of a foreign design and the Swedish AFV industry has been absorbed and infected by the UK's BAe.
So it's probably down to the Swiss (preferring wheeled vehicles), the Finnish (wheeled vehicles only) and maybe the Germans (one major project per decade).

The good news is that the Russians don't excel at this either.

Still, in the long term we should fix this procurement and industrial issue, which looks a lot like a institutional culture, red tape, staff technical competence, rulebook and politics issue to me.

related:

The de facto cancellation may be considered news and this blog isn't really about news, but this list of related blog posts shows that this is really not news. It was predictable. The story is here is a persisting, hemisphere-spanning problem.

S O
defence_and_freedom@gmx.de

*: The Bradley issues are well-known. The M-1 issues are mostly about the wrong engine (turbine instead of diesel), the initially wrong gun (105 mm rifled instead of 120 mm smoothbore) and the political intervention in favour of the design which the army had considered inferior (Chrysler's). Chrysler was in trouble and the government wanted to bail it out through the Pentagon budget. A quick recap is here.
.

4 comments:

  1. You can count the Canadian Close Combat Vehicle (CCV) in your list reflecting "procurement and industrial issues."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anon, the CCV is less of an industrial issue than the casualty of a politicized procurement process. For some reason, we're unwilling to state that the CCV needs to be tracked and therefore the French keep inserting wheeled contenders which cannot keep up with Leopard 2A4 in cross country all weather conditions. Otherwise there are several available MILCOTS purchases we could make, if we'd just pull our fucking heads out of our asses. CV90 is the most sensible of these, in my opinion. At that point, the BAe-ization of the Swedish defence conglomerates may rear its ugly head and then it will be an industrial issue.

      Delete
    2. IFVs - if as a concept sensible at all - are for armoured brigades / battlegroups.
      The Canadian military by its size, institutional traditions and missions would do better with a mechanized infantry brigade mindset. This means APCs are just fine for Canada.

      The "CV90 Armadillo" HAPC is regrettably weak on dismounts (8) and quite heavy (around 30 tons, resulting in about twice the fuel thirst of a normal APC of equivalent tech).
      I have a feeling we're going to miss the SEP program badly and ever more till the late 2020's.

      Delete
    3. 8 dismounts would be enough and that vehicle could, if it can still keep up with Leo 2, perform the required function. 8 is better than 6, and 8 is a default section anyways.

      We would do better with a whole shitload of things, but sadly procuring equipment is easier (and just look how much of a fuckup that is) than developing ideas. CCV will add capability we don't currently have and seem intent on using: there doesn't seem to be any urge to make mech inf all that distinct from the guys with LAV-IIIs in terms of mission now anyways, it's just that the LAVs can't keep up.

      Delete

Use a nickname and stick to it! I may block anonymous comments. Offensive comments may also be blocked, in part due to the duties of a blogger in Germany.