On April 22, 2020, BAE Systems has demonstrated its newest light tank that developed for the U.S. Army Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) program. The new light tank was showcased during visit of Secretary of the Army, Hon. Ryan D. McCarthy, and Vice Chief of Staff of the Army General Joseph M. Martin, at the General Dynamics facility in Detriot, Mi. U.S. Army leadership visited General Dynamics and BAE Systems facilities in Detroit to inspect several promising military programs that continue to progress despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Technically, BAE Systems Mobile Protected Firepower is a tank, but the U.S. Army does not like the term “light tank.
The U.S. Army has awarded BAE Systems a contract worth up to $376 million for the Engineering, Manufacturing, and Development (EMD) phase of the Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) program and rapid prototyping effort with low-rate initial production options. BAE Systems’ solution combines new technology with proven capability to provide the Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) with a highly agile, armor-protected platform that delivers overwhelming and precise firepower for use across the spectrum of terrains and operations. Under the contract, one of two awarded ahead of the Government’s down-select to a final contractor, BAE Systems will produce 12 prototype vehicles during the EMD phase.
The vehicle leverages investments the Army made in the M8 Armored Gun System, including its low-profile design, and proven technologies like the M35 105mm cannon, and an auto-loading ammunition system that allows the gun to fire at a rate of 12 rounds per minute. The M8 was developed by United Defense since bought by BAE in the early 1990s and offered to the Army in 1996 as a replacement for the M551 Sheridan light tank used by airborne forces. The program was canceled a year later and the mission ultimately was taken up by the M1128 Mobile Gun System, which is essentially a 105mm tank cannon mounted on a Stryker wheeled fighting vehicle.
The BAE Systems MPF is the result of more than 30 years of research and development for an optimized, rapidly deployable, light combat vehicle designed specifically to support light infantry. It also integrates scalable armor and innovative survivability subsystems to protect the vehicle and crew from threats on the future battlefield. The vehicle employs situational awareness systems adding to the highest levels of survivability and crew protection. The compact design allows for multiple vehicle deployment on a C-17 and exceeds the Army’s transport requirement and it is sustainable within the IBCT. The U.S. Army plans to equip its first unit with MPF vehicles in 2025 and eventually purchase 504 units.