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New special forces combat vehicle on the way

Jul. 31, 2013 - 04:34PM   |  
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General Dynamics' Flyer, Navistar Defense's Special Operations Tactical Vehicle and AM General's Ground Mobility Vehicle 1.1 (seen here) are in the running to become the new combat vehicle for Special Forces.
General Dynamics' Flyer, Navistar Defense's Special Operations Tactical Vehicle and AM General's Ground Mobility Vehicle 1.1 (seen here) are in the running to become the new combat vehicle for Special Forces. (AM General)
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The Flyer from General Dynamics. (General Dynamics)
Special Operations Tactical Vehicle from Navistar Defense (Navistar Defense)

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Evaluations are complete and a decision is expected any time on selection of Special Forces’ new combat vehicle, known as the Ground Mobility Vehicle 1.1.

The decision to choose among three competitors and purchase the vehicles had been expected in the spring, but the snake-eater community gave extra attention to detail to make sure the vehicle has everything it needs. At least 1,300 vehicles will be purchased through 2020. Costs cannot exceed $350,000 per vehicle.

Here are five things you need to know:

1. Run and gun. The GMV 1.1 will give new meaning to this term. Even with maximum armor, the maneuverability and speed of these vehicles will leave an A-kit Humvee in the dust. Each vehicle can go from zero to 60 mph in seconds and has top speeds of more than 100 mph.

It has plenty of firepower to complement the horsepower. A 360-degree turret that can hold any crew-served or remotely operated weapon system will sit atop the vehicle while every corner, flank and angle will be covered by a machine-gun mount.

Various rail and track systems provide countless configurations of seating; weaponry; command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and munitions.

2. High speed. The GMV may find a home in other high-speed, low-drag units. Top leaders have emphasized returning high mobility and firepower to a vehicle fleet bogged down by armor protection.

Many industry and military analysts believe the GMV will provide the performance and profiles needed for long-range reconnaissance, airfield seizure — all the high-speed missions common to force-entry organizations such as the 18th Airborne Corps. Weighing in at less than 7,400 pounds, the GMV can be airdropped, sling-loaded or internally loaded on the CH-47. Some competitors even fit in the V-22 Osprey.

3. Down to three. The original field of six competitors has been cut by half, and these three vehicles remain in the running: The Flyer by General Dynamics, (Ordnance and Tactical Systems), AM General’s GMV 1.1 and Navistar Defense’s Special Operations Tactical Vehicle.

General Dynamics is the relative newcomer but has submitted a versatile vehicle that can fit inside the V-22 Osprey. Roughly 80 percent of its parts are commercial, off-the-shelf or off the Humvee.

AM General built on the success of GMV 1.0, a vehicle already under contract with special operators. GMV 1.1 has decreased weight and increased performance and has a 70 percent parts commonality with 1.0.

Navistar Defense teamed with Indigen Armor, maker of Special Operations Command’s Non-Standard Tactical Truck, to produce a high-performance, up-armored pickup “skinned” to look like a run-of-the-mill truck. The truck has 80 percent parts commonality.

4. Armor when you need it. Each vehicle can put on A, B and C armor kits. Navistar Defense took a slightly different approach for its two-frame chassis, offering a six-piece up-armored system: four doors and two sets of glass.

5. Improvements already. A key example is Navistar’s Special Operations Tactical Vehicle. Foreign customers asked for an 81mm mortar to be added to the truck bed. The company obliged, and the Baja-inspired suspension needs no adjustments to accommodate it, said Lauren McFarland, Navistar’s corporate communications manager.

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