The Army decided to replace Bradley Fighting Vehicles 17 years and $22b ago. They still don't have a prototype.

Via:  1stwarrior  •  4 months ago  •  15 comments

The Army decided to replace Bradley Fighting Vehicles 17 years and $22b ago. They still don't have a prototype.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

Last Friday, the U.S. Army   kicked off   a competition to   design a successor for the Bradley Fighting Vehicle , a 33-ton tank-like workhorse used to carry troops into battle and provide fire support with its rapid-fire cannon and anti-tank missiles.

While it’s sadly typical for the military to feature cost overruns and flawed requirements, what makes the procurement process for the Bradley so outstanding is that it’s been riddled with financial waste and poor stewardship before the project has even started.

The Army has been   promising a replacement for its thousands of Bradleys   since 2003. Already upwards of   $22.9 billion is calculated   to have been blown on calls for and rejections of previous submissions. The competition announced last week is the fourth, and there are few signs that whatever doomed earlier rounds has been overcome now;   the third one was axed mere weeks ago .

Worst of all, soldiers are now relying on   40-year-old   armored vehicles that haven’t been fully upgraded since the decision was made to start from scratch with a replacement, leaving them in the lurch while the Army hopes that the fourth time’s the charm.

An examination of this expensive, convoluted road to nowhere reveals that the root causes are the Pentagon’s shifting goal posts, a lack of realistic expectations about what can be technologically achieved, and an apparent unwillingness to accept the solutions offered by the arms industry.

The   M2 and M3 Bradley   entered service in the 1980s and have featured prominently in the nation’s campaigns in Iraq. The Bradley’s own development was so convoluted and expensive that it became the   subject of the comedy film “The Pentagon Wars .” However, the vehicle   proved effective   in the 1991 Gulf War.

But a   few flaws have troubled the Bradley   over time: It’s heavier than similar vehicles in other armies due to the armor that’s been added over the years to protect the troops it carries, which in turn has left its engine and electrical systems underpowered. It doesn’t have room for a full nine-person squad, and its floor wasn’t designed to protect against improvised explosive devices and mines.

In 2003, the Army launched a sweeping replacement program called   Future Combat Systems , which sought to replace many vehicles, including the Bradley, using a common chassis and computer network to share sensors and communications. Supposedly, speed and sensors would compensate for diminished armor protection in the vehicles.

But it turned out that approach didn’t work, as the warfare in Iraq led the Army to realize that its vehicles needed   more   protection against rocket-propelled grenades and IEDs. The idea that technology could prevent vehicles from ever being ambushed was proving naïve. Moreover, the Army bit off more than it could chew by trying to   develop a common hull   for more than a dozen vehicles designed to perform very different missions!

After   devouring $21.4 billion , the Future Combat System initiative was canceled in 2009 and a second venture launched instead: the   Ground Combat Vehicle program . This time, the Army wanted the highest level of protection possible — and that led to   design concepts of 50 to 65 tons , so heavy they   exceed weight limits for many bridges   in Eastern Europe. So, $1.5 billion later, the   Ground Combat Vehicle program , too, was   canceled by the Army in 2014 .

While the United States was left with a fleet of aging Bradleys, other countries — namely Russia — were modernizing their equivalent military vehicles. That led the   Army to express a sense of urgency   when it launched its third replacement attempt, this one called the   Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle . The urgency reflected new concerns that a land conflict with the Russian military was a genuine possibility.

The term “Optionally Manned” reflected the fact that the Army wanted the vehicle to be operable by remote control when embarking on highly dangerous missions. The Army also wanted the vehicle to include revolutionary new defense systems and have a   bigger gun, with a caliber twice the size of that on the Bradley , so it could outmatch its peers on the battlefield.

These were highly ambitious requirements, and the Army insisted that they had to be met on a very rapid timeline. In fact, they seem to have been too ambitious.

Of the three companies that showed interest,   one dropped out , saying it was a business decision. A   second produced a working vehicle   but needed an extension to secure permits for delivery and was ruthlessly disqualified. That left   only one company still in   the so-called “competition,” though it was deemed impressive by industry observers.

But Congress, responding to negative reports,   cut nearly half of the program’s funding  in December. Then, the Army announced it was   canceling the competition  on Jan. 16, insinuating that the sole remaining vehicle failed to meet specifications anyway.

Industry observers believe the major problem was likely the same weight-versus-protection tension that had plagued the earlier replacement efforts. In this case, the Army wanted the vehicle to be light enough so that two could fit in a C-17 transport plane, but also expected a high degree of armor protection that was likely   unobtainable with existing armor technology   — particularly for a rushed competition.

The revised competition kicked off by the Army on Feb. 7 will   reportedly   take a slower, more exploratory approach before formulating specifications that might be unachievable as happened last time. This more flexible process may yield better results than its predecessors, but it shows alarming inconsistency. In the space of a few months, the Army went from demanding rapid results using predefined specifications to embracing a slow, noncommittal development process.

Some experts even argue that the   program’s rapid self-destruction   constituted a kind of success because it didn’t drag on for years after the industry failed to deliver hoped-for proposals. But not only is that underwhelming expectation problematic in and of itself, it also overlooks the fact that two companies that   invested their own resources   in meeting the Army’s specifications were left with little to show for their efforts, further tarnishing the Pentagon’s credibility after the previous failed efforts.

This Groundhog Day exercise in spending billions of dollars on three failed attempts to replace the same 40-year-old vehicle also highlights a deeper problem: how frequently   large Pentagon procurements   go completely off the rails   due to short-sighted and inconsistent program management. It also indicates a continued unwillingness to accept limitations in what’s feasible given the current technology.

It’s stunning that after the first two high-profile failures, the Army wasted more time and money — although fortunately less than in previous attempts — on yet another failed procurement program. No one won in the latest fiasco: not the taxpayer, not the arms industry, and certainly not soldiers who will likely have to make do with even more aging Bradleys before a new vehicle comes along


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1  seeder  1stwarrior    4 months ago

Sorry boys and girls, but THIS is pathetic.  And they say they need more money why??????  $22 BILLION dollars for something they don't have - no working model - no prototype - NOTHING.

Oh yeah - the Navy ain't doing too hot either with -

The Navy spent $30B and 16 years to fight Iran with a littoral combat ship that doesn't work

The LCS was supposed to be inexpensive and easy to build for the new era of asymmetric warfare. That era is here, but the ship is not.
That's $ 52 BILLION dollars - right out the window.  WTF are the JCS's doing?????
1.1  MUVA  replied to  1stwarrior @1    4 months ago

I know a guy that has been working on the new hovercraft since he retired 10 years ago.

Buzz of the Orient
2  Buzz of the Orient    4 months ago

Israel is pretty good at developing armoured vehicles for carrying troops into battle:


The Eitan is eight meters long and three meters wide and weighs 30-35 tons. It is operated by a commander, gunner and driver. The vehicle can transport nine fighters in an air-conditioned environment. Its body and suspension system have been improved to maximize crew protection and survivability. In addition, upgrades have been made to the steering, electric and control systems.

The Eitan has a 750-horsepower engine and can cruise at 90 kph on paved roads in urban settings. It can maneuver off-road with independent suspension and an off-the-shelf drivetrain.


The Eitan is equipped with an unmanned turret, an FN MAG, 0.50-caliber heavy machine gun and a 30-mm. cannon with a range of 2,500 meters. Its missile launcher can be remotely operated without crew members leaving the vehicle and exposing themselves to enemy fire.

The vehicle has a peripheral observation system, a high-resolution touchscreen system offering a 360-degree view of the battlefield and a variety of advanced weapons systems, such as the Iron Fist advanced, an active defense system that can intercept missiles and rocket-propelled grenades 
Heartland American
2.2  Heartland American  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @2    4 months ago

Looks like a capable system to me. I like it.

Split Personality
3  Split Personality    4 months ago

If they ever get their act together, maybe they can develop something that doesn't roll over so often that every crew mwmber has to be trained for such an event

The bastards are top heavy after 40 years of add ons.

The training may work, but the vehicle no longer does.  This is from 2007 and nothing has changed

4  Kavika     4 months ago

Better use of our money is to outsource to the Finns. They build what is considered the best in the world. 

The Patria AMV XP is a newer, improved and more capable version of the   Patria AMV , which is currently one of the best armored personnel carriers in the world. The "XP" stands for Extra Payload, Protection and Performance. This armored vehicle was first publicly revealed in 2013. The Patria AMV XP was selected by Slovakia. Slovak military plans to order 81 of these armored vehicles for delivery between 2018 and 2024.

   The Patria AMV XP has a maximum combat weigh of 30 t. It is heavier than the standard AMV, which is already one of the heaviest and most protected armored personnel carrier in the world. Considering its protection levels, a well-armed the Patira AMV XP can be seen as a wheeled Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV), rather than a wheeled armored personnel carrier. It weights more, is better protected and packs heavier punch than most armored personnel carriers. In many respects it even outperforms many older IFVs, such as American   M2 Bradley , British   Warrior , or Russian   BMP-2 .

   With maximum level of protection the front arc of the AMV XP withstands 30 mm armor-piercing rounds. All-round protection is against 14.5 mm armor-piercing rounds. Vehicle also has a top-class mine protection. It withstands blasts equivalent to 10 kg of TNT under any wheel or anywhere under the hull. Uparmored AMV XP can survive hits of   RPG-7   rockets. An NBC protection system is fitted as standard.

   The Patria AMV XP can be fitted with various weapon systems, either remotely controlled or turret-mounted weapons. A baseline armored personnel carrier is proposed with a remotely-controlled weapon station, armed with a 12.7 mm machine gun. Slovak armored vehicles will be fitted with a locally-produced Turra 30 remotely-controlled turret, armed with a 30 mm cannon, 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun and two anti-tank guided missile launchers.

   This armored vehicle is powered by a Scania DC13 turbocharged diesel engine, developing 603 hp. The Patria AMV XP has amphibious capability. On water it is propelled by two rear-mounted waterjets. However once extra armor is fitted it is no longer amphibious.

4.1  seeder  1stwarrior  replied to  Kavika @4    4 months ago

Kavika - that's a great weapon, and, based on the literature, it could, in my opinion, replace the Bradley.

4.1.1  Kavika   replied to  1stwarrior @4.1    4 months ago

It's predecessor, the Patria AMV is currently considered one of the best in the world. This model is an improvement on it.

They have been building these for a number of years. 2003 for the Patria AMV. 

Sparty On
4.2  Sparty On  replied to  Kavika @4    4 months ago
Patria AMV XP

Looks a lot like a Russian BTR ....

4.2.1  Kavika   replied to  Sparty On @4.2    4 months ago
Looks a lot like a Russian BTR ....

Yes, it does.

Sparty On
5  Sparty On    4 months ago

One of my nephews is a Zoomie who worked for two years on fixing problems with the joint strike fighter (F-35) the manufacturer said were not there.   Total SNAFU when it was first deployed.

The more things change the more they stay the same.   We have to find a way to stop defense contractor abuse.   I say put prior military in charge of oversight.   Guys and gals with no political ties who had their noses in the mud dealing with garbage like this.

Problems would get fixed real quick or contractors would get shit-canned if we were in charge.

5.1  XDm9mm  replied to  Sparty On @5    4 months ago
We have to find a way to stop defense contractor abuse.  

I'd agree if I was convinced it was actually contractor abuse.   However, when the military or any arm of government for that matter puts out a contract for bid, it's invariably so loose and ill defined that the contractor only has a concept of what is actually wanted.  THEN once the contract is let, and they get down to business, there's so many changes that the end result has virtually no resemblance to the original concept design theory.  And all those changes don't come cheap.....  especially if the platform is already being built for testing.

So, don't lay all the blame at the feet of the contractors.  Look at the people that write the specifications.

I say put prior military in charge of oversight. 

Ok......   that's good!!  While the actual signatures on any approvals have to be government employees, since contractors cannot legally obligate the government financially, who do you actually think is doing the oversight   (Being a contractor myself, I can tell you it ain't a govvie!!)

The government screws itself, especially when it comes to military hardware.  They continually try to develop one platform, say an aircraft, that will satisfy the needs and requirements of all the branches that use them.   What the Air Force needs is not the same as the Navy needs, is not the same as what the Marines need, etc., etc.

Sparty On
5.1.1  Sparty On  replied to  XDm9mm @5.1    4 months ago
 Look at the people that write the specifications.

Surely that has a part to play but more often than not, it is not the spec.   Regardless, i could care less who's fault it is.   It just needs to get fixed.   We do contracts for the Fed all the time, a few years ago we built some new barracks at an Army base near us.   We followed the spec but if we didn't and we didn't give them what the spec called for, that is 100% on us not on the Fed.

Too often military contractors feet aren't held to fire like ours would be and that needs to get fixed.

5.1.2  XDm9mm  replied to  Sparty On @5.1.1    4 months ago
Regardless, i could care less who's fault it is.   It just needs to get fixed.  

Another point that needs to be considered is when the original specification was 'conceptualized', when the bid documents went to 'press' and how technology has changed in the intervening period.   What was originally considered is very possibly obsolete, or a vastly superior weapons system is now available and the 'support' and infrastructure for that improved WS needs to be designed into the specifications which requires X to be changed, which forces changes to Y which in turn makes it impossible to install Z.   But you get the idea I'm sure.

We do contracts for the Fed all the time, a few years ago we built some new barracks at an Army base near us.   We followed the spec but if we didn't and we didn't give them what the spec called for, that is 100% on us not on the Fed.

Ok..   let's be honest.  Specs for living quarters are appreciably different than specs for naval warships.  Or fighters.  Or land based weapons systems.

I had a couple of "contractors" who bid on a job thank me for the specifications I provided them to bid on.  (Yeah I was also a contractor at the time, but working for the customer needing the SCIF and not any construction contractor.)   I included everything that they would need to provide and install and even went so far as to provide sketches for exactly what the customer wanted.  (No architectural drawings as it was a 'design build' bid.)  The information they received made it possible for the five different contractors to return bids within $1,500.00 of each other.  (Ok..  one exception who so grossly overpriced the bid we actually asked him post bid why it was so high.  The simple answer was he didn't want to "No Bid" because he thought that might blackball him from future work so he overpriced knowing he would immediately lose!!)

Sparty On
5.1.3  Sparty On  replied to  XDm9mm @5.1.2    4 months ago

Well, i'm sure you did a fine job on those specs but i can tell you that on a design-build project, that i'm assuming was in the millions, five bids coming within $1500 of each other is an aberration, an anomaly.

In my 40+ years of doing this i've have seen it happen but it is rare.   There are just too many moving parts and variables even with a well laid out spec.   Labor alone is a huge variable depending on how each contractor see's the job.   Coming within what is the equivalent of a few man-days on a bid like that is very rare indeed.

That said, i need to get you in a room with my nephew if you want to hear about military contractor abuse.   He's got some good ones for you.


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