Friday, January 16, 2015

US Army Officials: Field Ultralight Vehicles Quickly

US Army Officials: Field Ultralight Vehicles Quickly: For more than a decade, the US Army's vehicle development efforts have focused on heavily armored vehicles, taking for granted the presence of roadside bombs common to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Now Army officials say they want to quickly field a new class of vehicles that trades armor for mobility and lets airborne assault troops drop far from objectives protected by air defense, speed over land and capture them.

The Army's Maneuver Center of Excellence (MCoE) at Fort Benning, Georgia, is seeking the approval of senior Army acquisition officials for a plan to choose from readily available vehicles and field some 300 of them to the service's global response force (GRF), under the 18th Airborne Corps. Once the program is established, a vendor could be selected and a vehicle fielded in 2016, they say.

"Industry is saying, 'I can build this right now for you, I just need someone to say go,' " said Carl Pignato, a light combat vehicle analyst at the MCoE's mounted requirements division.

Senior Army leaders have been calling for such a capability, including Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Daniel Allyn and Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, director of the Army Capabilities and Integration Center. Allyn years earlier, as chief of the 18th Airborne Corps, signed off on an operational-needs request for the capability.