The US Army has said it had awarded nearly $900 million in contracts to British arms manufacturer BAE Systems and US firm General Dynamics to develop its next-generation ground combat vehicle.
The Pentagon said it had given $450 million to BAE and $440 million to General Dynamics to develop “competitive, affordable and executable designs for a new Army Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV)” over the next two years.
The vehicle, which is expected to be able to transport nine infantrymen, is due to be operational by 2018, replacing the aging Bradleys and Strykers, it said in a statement.
The Pentagon, whose budget has doubled since the September 11, 2001 attacks, is bracing for drastic cuts in the coming years as the United States attempts to rein in the spiraling deficit.
The launch of the Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) program before the severity of the cuts is known allows the Army to ensure it will not die on the chopping block.
“Given the economic environment the nation currently faces, the Army recognizes that it is imperative to continually address requirements as we build a versatile, yet affordable, next-generation infantry fighting vehicle,” Secretary of the Army John McHugh said, according to the statement.
“This is an important milestone in our Army’s modernization program,” said Army Chief of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey.
“GCV is the first combat vehicle designed from inception for an IED (improvised explosive device) environment. It will provide armor protection and the capability to maneuver cross-country with the nine-man infantry squad.”