Though the design process promises to be cheaper and more comprehensive than prior design processes, it is not the first time the Army has tried to replace the vehicle.
The United States Army would like to make extensive use of 3D modeling and simulations to build their Bradley Fighting Vehicle replacement. Unlike traditional 2D paper blueprints, 3D modeling can let designers test out their designs before investing time and resources into prototyping and helps streamline the research and development process.
Defense News quoted an Army official, who stated that “we intend to use digital engineering in a model-based environment, and that is in the next phase, phase 3, where we’re going to award those contracts to design vehicles.”
“We’re currently working through exactly what that looks like, but we want to get to a cloud-based tech stack so we have the ability to get in there and take a look at the designs as they evolve in real-time, and then take those designs and the data that comes with them and plug them into models and simulations so that we can run them while they’re still digital, and we can use that technique to avoid costly failures on a test range.”
The Bradley Fighting Vehicle is a Cold War-era tracked armored personnel carrier and tank killer, built as a response to the Soviet Union’s BMP series of armored, tracked fighting vehicles. And while the Bradley is robustly armed with a 25mm chain gun, secondary general-purpose machine guns, and a TOW anti-tank system when it debuted, the vehicle’s armor package and firepower have since been outclassed by other similar vehicles.
The Army has tried to replace the Bradley before, though previous attempts have been unsuccessful. The Army ultimately canceled one program, the Ground Combat Infantry Fighting Vehicle, thanks in part to the prototype vehicle’s incredibly high weight. The prototype would have been heavier than the M1 Abrams main battle tank, one of the heaviest main battle tanks in service.
Next-Generation Combat Vehicle
The current Next-Generation Combat Vehicle program is again seeking a Bradley replacement and contracts with five companies, American Rheinmetall Vehicles, Oshkosh Defense, Point Blank Enterprises, BAE Systems, and General Dynamics Land Systems.
The program has hit several speed bumps, including a requirements reassessment. The program’s original requirements were highly restrictive and would have been very difficult to achieve.
It remains to be seen if the Army’s latest Bradley Fighting Vehicle replacement will bear fruit. While a 3D digital engineering process could indeed streamline the Next-Generation Combat Vehicle program, it’s not the first time the Army has tried replacing the Cold War-era vehicle.
Caleb Larson is a multimedia journalist and Defense Writer with the National Interest. He lives in Berlin and covers the intersection of conflict, security, and technology, focusing on American foreign policy, European security, and German society.