Sunday, April 9, 2017

Selected Foreign Counterparts of U.S. Army Ground Combat Systems: and Implications for Combat Operations and Modernization

The U.S. Army’s current fleet of main battle tanks (MBTs), tracked infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs), tracked self-propelled (SP) artillery, and multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS), which constitutes the nucleus of the Army’s armored ground forces, were developed in the 1970s and fielded in the 1980s to counter the Soviet Union’s and Warsaw Pact’s numerically superior ground forces.

The combat performance of these vehicles against Iraqi forces during Operation Desert Storm in 1991 reaffirmed for many the role these systems would play in future Army ground operations.
U.S. Army leadership notes for the first time since World War I, that the Army does not have a new ground combat vehicle under development and “at current funding levels, the Bradley and Abrams will remain in the inventory for 50 to 70 more years.” Regarding armored vehicle development, the Army suggests “our enemies, and even our friends and allies, have not remained static and, in fact, even our allies are modernizing to such an extent that they have outpaced us in some areas.”
This comment raises the possibility that in the not-too-distant future, foreign armored vehicle design and capabilities could surpass existing U.S. systems. Observations from current conflicts as well beliefs as to what future conflicts might look like help determine what types of improvements should be made to existing combat vehicles in terms of lethality, survivability, mobility, and maintainability.
They may also lead to a conclusion that an entirely new combat vehicle will be required to address current and potential future threats. Comparison of selected U.S. and foreign ground combat systems and observations from current conflicts as well beliefs as to what future conflicts might look like raise implications for U.S. ground combat system modernization.

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