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31 Oct 12. One concept became abundantly clear during last week’s Association of the United States Army (AUSA) conference in Washington: There is little appetite for expensive and uncertain new-start programs among Army leadership. With multiple new vehicles, such as the mine-resistant, ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicle, the MRAP All-Terrain Vehicle (M-ATV), the Stryker and up-armored Humvees coming online over the past decade of conflict, the service is more interested in consolidating its gains and upgrading what it already has. And that’s where the Army’s Tank-Automotive & Armaments Command’s Life Cycle Management Command (TACOM LCMC) comes in. The command acts as the broker among the Army, industry and academic labs to evaluate and integrate everything from new armor solutions and engine technologies to robotics and new or updated munitions technologies for program managers looking to keep costs down while extending the life of the platforms under their supervision. While the Department of Defense is planning to absorb $497bn worth of cuts over the coming decade, with the shadow of another $500bn in cuts coming if Congress fails to reach a sequestration deal, the business of sustaining existing systems is more critical than ever. But even with these large budget cuts — both real and potential — Army sustainment dollars and contracts will hardly stop flowing to industry in coming years, though they will do so at a distinctly slower pace than witnessed over the past decade of war-related rapid acquisition. And that makes TACOM’s mission more critical to the future of the service. (Source: Defense News)

31 Oct 12. The U.S. Army kicked off the next chapter in its attempt to modernize its Humvee fleet when the service issued a request for proposals Oct. 29 to find out what survivability and crew protection enhancements industry has to offer. While previous efforts aimed at upgrading as many as 60,000 vehicles from top to bottom, the most recent document outlines a series of extremely limited goals focused on vehicle survivability by “making systematic improvements … through increased crew protection and vehicle survivability at a maximum Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) of 18,500 lbs.” according to the solicitation. The RfP for what has been dubbed the Modernized Expanded Capacity Vehicle — Survivability (MECV-S), is only the first of what Col. David Bassett, the Army’s deputy program executive officer for combat support and combat service support, described as a multistep process to revamp the Humvee fleet for potential future operations. (Source: Defense News)

15 Oct 12. China is now manufacturing two families of 8×8 wheeled medium-weight armored vehicles, the China North Industries (Norinco) ZSL09 (ZBD09 or VN-1 export designator), being rapidly acquired by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), and the Poly Industries Type-07, which so far is only offered for export. The 20-ton ZSL09 family offers greater firepower and, since its emergence in 2007, has been developed into about the same group of 10 variants as the General Dynamics Land Systems Stryker, its U.S. counterpart. It is the PLA’s preference for greater firepower that marks a key difference in the U.S. and Chinese operational concepts for this class of vehicle. The Stryker vehicle family was originally intended as an interim main platform for the U.S. Army’s Stryker Brigade, which emerged from then-Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki’s recognition of the need for an independent, medium-weight (and less expensive) brigade-size force for contingencies short of full-scale Cold War-level armored conflict. The Stryker Brigade has stressed deployability and maneuverability while seeking to leverage superior information, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), and command and control (C2) capabilities to produce m

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