PEO Ground Combat Systems talks weapon systems modernization

By on Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

WARREN, Mich.: Scott Davis, Program Executive Officer for Ground Combat Systems, and his management team led the PEO GCS panel discussion for industry leaders Tuesday at the 2010 NDIA Combat Vehicle Conference.

Davis recognized the valuable contributions of the industrial base and invited leaders to accept the challenge of developing effective, efficient, and affordable systems with integrated and interoperable capabilities for the future.

“In an era of persistent conflict and uncertainty, it is essential that we leverage business processes to drive a commonality among the platforms,” Davis said.

Davis also addressed the concerns associated with modernizing systems.

“We are faced with the challenge of balancing resources and requirements within the Defense Acquisition System,” Davis said. “Headquarters is aware of these challenges and is committed to working them out.”

The Heavy Brigade Combat Team modernization efforts, to include the Abrams main battle tank, the Bradley fighting vehicle, and the Paladin Integrated Management (PIM), were addressed by Col. William Sheehy, project manager HBCT, who reinforced the message that platforms must be robust for future capabilities.

“We recognize the value of the industrial base in providing for our nation’s jobs, and we rely on you (industry leaders) to support future efforts, as with the Ground Combat Vehicle,” Sheehy said.

The production of the Abrams and Bradley IFV are currently scheduled to cease by 2014.

Concentrated efforts remain essential for the Abrams to regain the space, weight, power and cooling (SWaP-C) and enable future ammunition and the emerging digitized network.

“The Bradley IFV will be replaced by the Ground Combat Vehicle,” Sheehy said. “It is currently our sole modernization effort.”

As for the PIM program, Sheehy confirmed the need for a self-propelled howitzer to satisfy the Army’s need for full-spectrum capabilities.

“The Army is fully committed to the PIM,” Sheehy said. “The program is on schedule with 80% of our time dedicated to its success.” Sheehy clarified that PIM is a life-extension program, not a modernization effort.

Lt. Col. Jim Schirmer, product manager for fleet management of the Stryker Brigade Combat Team reviewed Stryker modernization efforts which include a larger suspension, bigger tires for traffic ability, mine-blast seats, double V-hull, a 450 horsepower engine, a larger electrical generator, and Ethernet digitization.

“Although the Stryker has proven to be a lethal, survivable and supportable system in Iraq and Afghanistan, SWaP-C is a challenge across the board and we are looking for innovative solutions,” Schirmer said.

Preparing industry leaders for possible competitive initiatives, Keith Gooding, project manager for Joint Lightweight Howitzer revealed that the M777 and M119 have the potential to be digitally modernized within the next two years, whereas the IPADS and Legacy will have minimal opportunities.

Lt. Col. Dave Thompson, project manager for Robotic Systems Joint Project Office, described the vast potential for industry engagement with unmanned ground systems for the Army and Marine Corps.

“We have seven thousand robots, with three thousand in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Thompson said. “We are reaching out to industry and academia to help us further develop modularity and commonality among the systems.”

The panel discussion included questions from the audience, with one query addressing the imminent release for the Ground Combat Vehicle Request for Proposal.

“GCV is paving the way for a faster turn-around for future RFPs,” Davis said. “We want to make sure we have the right foundation from the start.”

Davis concluded by thanking industry leaders for their time, dedication, hard work and good ideas.

“It is essential to maintain a skilled industrial base to take us into the future as we move forward with our modernization efforts,” Davis said. “We are trying to get key implications on the road so you can help us develop effective, efficient and affordable systems.”

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