Army: GCV Needs to Be Big and Tracked

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Army requirements officials are not backing away from the service’s plan to field a tracked Ground Combat Vehicle that could weigh more than an Abrams M1 tank.

While a final weight hasn’t been decided upon, Army officials maintain that the GCV will likely have to be considerably heavier than the Bradley Fighting Vehicle it’s replacing to protect the nine-man squad and crew from the powerful blast effects of enemy improvised explosive devices.

“It’s fairly easy for us to make a thicker underbelly plate or add a V-shaped hull to make the vehicle survivable, but what that does not address is the accelerated forces that come with that blast,” Col. Rocky Kmiecik, director of the Mounted Requirements Division at the Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence, said at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Winter Symposium. “Right now the best way to protect the soldier is by having adequate space inside.”

Kmiecik said the extra space allows for specialized features such as floating floors for blast deflection and extra headroom above the soldier.

Last fall, the Congressional Budget Office, projected that the GCV could weigh as much as 84 tons, making it heavier than an M1 Abrams and twice as heavy as the current Bradley.

Army officials maintain that the CBO’s estimate is on the high end of the scale, but were not shying away from talking about weight at AUSA.

“The question comes up with the Ground Combat Vehicle ‘My God it’s 20 tons more than the Bradley. How does that affect deployability?’ – It doesn’t because it takes the same amount of planes the same amount of times to deploy Bradleys as it does Ground Combat Vehicles,” Kmiecik said. “If you are moving tanks to a place those planes are going to be able to support the Ground Combat Vehicle.”

Kmiecik also talked about need for the GCV to be tracked instead of wheeled to meet the Army’s cross-country mobility requirements.

“Really to maintain the mobility across country … you need 20 pounds per square inch or less,” he said, describing how the surface pressure is distributed. “The best wheeled vehicles are easily double that; your tracked vehicles, most of them are under that, anywhere from 15 to 18 pounds per square inch.”

The GCV also has a requirement for a main gun that’s larger than the Bradley’s 25mm cannon.

“There’s a requirement for a larger-than 25mm, most likely a 30mm gun or above weapon that’s based not only on our ability to reach out and engage enemy armor … but that caliber of ammunition also allows you to go to an airburst round,” Kmiecik said. “It allows you to have that precision firepower to engage a small dismounted threat with minimal collateral damage and a minimal use of rounds.”

Currently, analysis of alternatives for the GCV is expected to be sent to the Defense Department for review in late March, Kmiecik said. The proposed GCV requirements document, which is still under review by the Army Requirements Oversight Council, is scheduled to go to the Joint Staff for review next month.

Right now, it’s still unclear how the pending budget cuts under sequestration will affect the GCV program. The Army issued a memorandum Jan. 16 announcing the addition of a six-month extension of the program’s technology development phase and subtracting two of the proposed three engineering and manufacturing development contracts. Army leaders don’t plan to make a Milestone C decision for the program until 2019.

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Matt Cox
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  • Lance

    More Bullcrap from the Generals and APC makers who made GCV program. Making it bigger than a M-1 makes it a easy target and much slower than a M-1 so infantry cant keep up. Makes it impossible to airlift a C-5 can only hold 2 M-1s so unless you want to wast millions and carry 1 at a time it wont be moveable.

    More crap from the Generals who helped make the DoDs fiscal crisis in the first place.

  • Roy Smith

    I remember hearing that the reason(according to Rumsfeld) that the Crusader Howitzer was cancelled was because it was too big to be able to deploy in a pinch. You have the CV90,the ASCOD,& the German Puma IFV’s that can replace the Bradley if that is the plan. Also if you want a “heavy” IFV,you can get the Namer. Seriously,how hard is it to put a bigger gun on a Bradley? The GCV seems like a big joke to me.

  • PolicyWonk

    At a time when the DoD is trying to shrink the logistics footprint, the army thinks building a GCV that weighs *more* than an M1A2 is a good idea? Shouldn’t the infantry be able to cross the *same* bridges than an M1A2 can?

    Methinks someone needs to go back to the drawing board, and get back to the real world.

  • sakitla

    Is the vehicle pictured an artist rendition of the GCV or CV90? An airbust capable gun, the 40mm CTAI?

  • mpower6428

    ” an APC heavier then the M1 Tank”…!?! me thinks the Army brass are giving the budgiteers a sacrificial lamb so they can keep the systems they already got promises (or money) too lobby for.

    if you’re gonna be corrupt… you might as well be slick too.

    i hope im wrong.

  • tee

    Just Up-grade the Bradley with the New 40mm CTA Remote turret with 2 Javelin or Spike LR missiles on it, then they would have room inside for their nine man squad and have a much more powerful weapon to defeat modern AFV’s, which would cost whole lot less than a complete redesigned vehicle.

  • @E_L_P

    In a Pacific pivot, an APC that can’t swim small rivers / lakes (like an M-113) is useless.

    Be interesting also to see all the bridges it won’t be able to go over. Also, a heavier APC means that the aircraft carrying it…burn more fuel.

    Then too, think of all those high quality roads that are not available in the Pacific. This vehicle will ruin those too.

    With modern anti-tank weapons, best not to make an APC so expensive you can’t afford to loose some of them.

    This program, (like the LCS and F-35 and Stryker) has stupid written all over it.

  • Max

    It’s about time the Army finally shook off the insane Rumsfeldian idea of “lighter, faster, etc”. No major war is ever a surprise anymore. There is plenty of time to move any armor that is needed to any battlefield in the world without any trouble. The same old question still remains: why get their faster only to get killed faster? I say kudos and congratulations to the Army. Not only that, but any major firepower that is needed on any battlefield can be provided by airpower, Navy or Air Force. You always need boots on the ground to take and hold territory, and you also need heavy armor like this one to back them up that can withstand an IED. But speed in getting to the battlefield is an idea that sounds good, but makes little sense anymore. Airpower gets their far faster than a bunch of tanks anyhow.

  • Chris

    This is starting to remind me of the Germans in WWII….Bigger, Bigger, Bigger…..Now, add this to the list to include a tank for the Airborne……..Before I retired I was at FT Polk. The 2 ID was there testing the Stryker. I pulled a young EM aside and I asked him point blank, “How is it?” …. His reply, “Sir, it is a POS.” ……..So what will we name this new vehicle, how about, “General Bubble Butt.”………..Those Generals are getting too much sun in Lauderdale.

    • Warfighter

      I can’t speak for the Stryker, but the LAV III helped keep my boys and I alive and kick butt in some serious fighting a few years back. The only things the bad guys hated more were the A10s.

      Are they perfect? No. But they can certainly handle their own.

      • IdiotKidWhoReadsAlot

        From what I understand, the only advantages to the Stryker are that its new, and its better armored. On the other hand, it has far more moving parts to wear down and break, and it is heavier as well (not by much though). This seems to be a wonderful example of how the Army has begun to implement new tech with more moving parts, despite our current war being in a DESERT.

    • zak

      The bigger, bigger, bigger attitude wasn’t a key problem for the Germans in WW II as much as trying to take on 1/2 the world. The Tiger I and Tiger II were vastly superior to the Sherman but they couldn’t produce enough of them.

    • blight_

      “Now, add this to the list to include a tank for the Airborne”

      So you’re suggesting the Sheridan and the M8 were bad ideas?

  • Roland

    Ever tauught of making it robotic with it’s own mind?

    • elgatoso


  • lane pratley

    With 9 passengers, you could carry 18 troops w/ 2 vehicles where an m3 requires 3.

    So, in some ways a smaller foot print?

  • majr0d

    Weight isn’t an unimportant issue but the Army hasn’t stated that it’s going to outweigh the M1 though everyone seems to have bought the highly speculative and much repeated writing of most defense journnalists to take it as fact. Anyone ever remember a piece of equipment that didn’t enter the inventory where journalists had created a false impression that it was junk. Saw it forst hand with the HMMWV, Abrams and Bradley.

    I’d prefer a lighter solution but I’ve come to accept we are so handicapped by an expectation that war can be waged with few casualties that we have created a strategic weakness that impacts us from the highest levels of decision making to the acquisition world to our warfighting doctrine.

  • tanker19E

    Ever see the movie the Pentagon Wars?

    [after redesigning the Bradley to carry a gun turret]

    Col. Robert Laurel Smith: That’s one hell of a cannon.
    Jones: That’s the problem.
    Col. Robert Laurel Smith: What is?
    Jones: You go out on the battlefield with this pecker sticking out of your turret, and the enemy’s going to unload on you with everything they got. Might as well put a big red bullseye on the side.
    Col. Robert Laurel Smith: But it’s a troop carrier, not a tank.
    Jones: Do you want me to put a sign on it in fifty languages, “I am a troop carrier, not a tank, please don’t shoot at me”?

  • ajspades

    If it is heavier than an Abrams, then it will not be as easy to deploy. As previously mentioned, the C-5 is weight limited to two Abrams, the C-17 to a single Abrams. Therefore, to move the same amount of GCV as tanks, or even Bradleys and M117, it will take more flights, meaning more gas, more money, etc.

  • john giangreco

    With all the geniuses in this country, and our boundless resources why haven’t we come up with a solution on how to make lightweight dependable armour???

    • Warfighter

      It’s physics, my friend. Armour is already far superior to what it was 50 years ago. The reality is that it will always be easier to come up with a weapon to defeat armour than a protection against it. The amount of energy modern weapons can apply to a target is phenomenal.

    • IdiotKidWho Reads

      What Warfighter said. And newer, more effective armor is expensive as all get out.

    • tmb2

      You have to have a minimum level of weight to keep a vehicle from flipping over from the blast wave. It doesn’t matter if the armor is so bad a** that nothing penetrates the hull and it only weighs 10 tons. If an artillery shell explodes underneath a 10 ton vehicle, that vehicle is going for a ride. Its the same concept behind people getting ribs broken while getting shot with a bullet proof vest. Yes it stopped the bullet, but there’s only so much it can do to the energy being generated.

  • PBB

    Actually, if they used a high strength flexible shield polymer and reduced the weight to 2 tons. The IED blast would push the vehicle up, the gas would dissipate sideways, and the polymer would prevent shards from cutting through. Then vehicle would drop and you still would be operational. Yes, the troops would need gel pak seat cushions. With reduced weight, you could drive 100mph over the ieds reducing the accuracy of the enemy because you are moving not crawling.


    Ridiculous! Preparing to fight the last war and not the next one. Lighter, faster and more adaptable mobility is better….but why expect the Army to look forward when it’s easier to look back and figure that 100 tons of beast will cover your butt.

  • Kathleen

    Yeah, that is why everyone thinks that Panther and Tiger (both variants) tanks were so bad in World War 2, because they were lighter and faster……………whereas our tankers were scared to death of meeting them in combat. Germans attacked in the Battle of the Bulge and succeeded in knocking out Shermans at 3 - 1 ratio even with us in the defense.

    • IdiotKidWho Reads

      Precisely. Larger and heavier has it’s uses; particularly against a largely static enemy, unlike a constantly mobile enemy such as those we face today. And I would like to point out that the Panther and Tiger were plagued with mechanical problems due to sabotage by the prisoner labor used to build them. One man, years after the war, went on record saying that it was not uncommon for a worker to break a tooth off of a drive gear and glue it back on, or for them to shove cigarette butts in gas lines.

    • zak

      Who thought the Panthers and Tigers were bad? Every account I’ve read is that allied tankers did not want to go up against them.

      And the Tiger II was a completely new tank, not a variant.

    • Blake

      Yes and the Germans lost the war because the Panthers and Tigers were so mechanically complicated that they could not be maintained and repaired. Sure, when one actually showed up you had to call the field artillery or tactical air, but we still beat them. And for that matter, they were so heavy that they has limited tactical mobility. Other than that the long barrel 75 mm and 88 mm were great guns.

    • Navbm7

      You’re argument is flawed; The Panther MK V was a very reliable tank, the Tiger I was not. These tanks were feared because they mounted very powerful guns and in the case of the Tiger also heavy armor. The only way a Sherman could knock out a Tiger was at close range into the rear of the Tiger. The 75mm high velocity gun on the Panther and the 88mm gun on the Tiger could engage at much longer ranges than the 76mm low velocity gun of the Sherman.
      On the Russian front, the German’s found out that the slow moving Tiger could be easily out-flanked by the much faster T-34, so they developed the tactic of using the Tiger in ambush. This tactic was also used to great effect in the bocage area of France.

    • blight_

      They probably could’ve achieved what they did at Ardennes using the exact same equipment they used to hit the French in 1940. And perhaps a Panzer II would have better fuel economy to penetrately deeply into American lines, instead of achieving limited breakthroughs and halting to steal American supplies.

      That said, I suspect the 3-1 ratio was earned in the bocage which favored the defense anyways. Short of re-doing the operational research done by others…

  • Scott

    go on youtube and see what happens to tanks, APC’s in modern urban combat in Syria,,, this is a wrong move Army

  • sooperfly

    You can’t protect every soldier from every weapon the enemy might use. Do the best you can in a design that provides the best compromise between crew safety and the tactical utility of the vehicle and its weapons. Speed and detection technology might be the answer instead of weight and size. We need smaller more agile vehicles. AND stay off the road and you probably won’t hit an IED anyway.

  • retired11B1SG

    Hmm Bigger is better? I would rather have had a Jeep in Iraq then the POS softside HMMWV we had hung around our neck. Didn’t see a lot of General on Route Irish in softsides, just uparmored Suburbans with Blackwater hanging all over them.

    Like the Stryker, its an industrial military complex POS that is going to waste billions and be a motorpool queen shoved down our throats.

    Is it just me or does the MRAP look like the South African Defence Force Buffelo? Guess not, we needed to spend a butt load of money to develop out own idea.

    • RET SGM

      How do you get it over a bridge? Weight class makes it very impractical. Most common sense thing is have something survivable and fast. Dont counteract an IED because they can just use larger explosives. Nothing is more effective and also dangerous as boots on the ground when your doing insurgency operations. We want to protect our soldiers but some of this stuff is just totally impractical.

    • 172ndSBCT2006

      STRYKER saved my life 4 times over…the perfect vehicle for MOUT…which statistically speaking is where the vast majority of conflicts will be hashed out.

    • tmb2

      Where do you get Strykers being motorpool queens?

  • SGT B

    We might as well make a Tiger APC with an 88MM gun to hold 20 soldiers, oh! and 6 M2 machine guns!

  • 51yanks

    One of my favorite Pentagon axioms that I picked up during my Army career was:
    “Any similarity between what the troops actually need and what they get from the Puzzle Palace is a minor miracle cloaked in a happy coincidence”.

  • howard

    remnds me of those old coastal defense guns
    people just go around them or jdam them
    best to make longer range artillery and missles for the
    infantry to shoot at what’s coming over the next hill
    and at what’s coming from over the radar

  • P.J. Bushe

    An 84-ton tracked fighting vehicle armed with a “massive” 30mm cannon?!!! You’ve got to be kidding me! That is about as senseless as recreating one of the Navy’s New Jersey-class battleships (58,000 tons each) and arming it with nothing but 3-inch and smaller guns. And what is going to propel this vehicle?… a 1.6 liter turbo-diesel? Somebody has their brains in the wrong place, or doesn’t have enough brains to be designing these insanely overweight & under-gunned vehicles.

  • bigdaddy

    The F35 of armor, go ahead and waste billions on something that will never work like the Sgt. York. Instead of getting the gear that works off the self to the soldiers that need it now not in in 10 years and eating up the budget like the F35 has. So far the F35 has ruined the marines ability to use funds for the equipment they need now. This type of weapon system will do the same for the army, it’s useless. We need to upgrade the vehicles we have now not make some ridiculous mess of a waste of money.

  • Craig Stolburg

    Why the Army is trying to reinvent the wheel when we alraedy had type classified the the M8 Buford Armored Gun system during the miserable presidency of Bill Clinton and he decided to take the funding for it and squander it on fighting in Bosnia. The system mounted an M86 105 MM rifled gun system that was originally slated for the M1 Abrams before they up graded it to 120 mm. Additionally it had 3 levels of armor protection which could be added depending on the theater of operation threats, making it air transportable. I should know it’s capabilities as I was one of the planners for designing and fielding this system.

    • Ryan

      Not exactly, the Army decided they’d rather keep their force up by 20,000 troops than invest in a vehicle that would keep the Army relevant in expeditionary warfare.

  • BlackOwl18E

    I take back what I said earlier. Let’s just keep the Abrams and Bradley for a little while longer.

    • crackedlenses

      Whatever we have now cannot be possibly worse than what these wonderful geniuses are coming up with…..

    • John Beckman

      Abrams yes…Bradley no!

  • MrVonBraun

    NASA’s budget gets more cuts for research…. and where does that money go? BIGGER TANKS ! MORE GUNS! MORE BOMBS! Hell yeah America… what’s next? the American equivalent to nazi’s Tiger II and an American Ratte? HELL YUH FUR FREEDOM!

  • John Beckman

    Up-grade the Bradley? No way! The Bradley is more of a “Death Trap” than a great fighting vehicle. With not enough space inside, no protection against bomb blasts from underneath, and a true death trap when falling into tank pits! (My close friend lost a good friend as everyone “piled” on top of him when the officer in charge ordered the Bradley Tank to continue ahead in the dark and it fell into a tank pit during the beginning of Desert Storm. (By the way, that Officer in charge got a medal while nobody else received no medals, including the dead soldier! ) Also, the Bradley has a “worthless” 25 mm. gun…any gun on the TGV (Tracked Ground Vehicle) should be at least a 40 mm. or preferably higher caliber gun, in order to be of value for not only protection of its crew but, for devastation against ground targets!

  • tiger

    Just what is the mission? Transport infantry off road with more protection than a truck? To be a light tank That carries troops & not enough gun to fight a tank? The APC role is a easy one. The USMC’s AAV-7 & the Russian BMP do that job well. Then you have the Stryker. Again a existing vehicle & what is the mission? I do not see the need to buy yet another armored vehicle after the MRAP mess. All I see is something trying to be a tank & does it badly. Yet is a APC looking for a fight it does not win?

  • Zspoiler

    Are they stupid or what? Bigger isn`t alway better.

  • Brandon

    Personaly, i believe they are far from finding a good replacement for the current GVC becuase they have yet to find a sutible replace after multipule failed attempts

  • Brandon

    GCV sorry

  • fgweighj;

    What if they have used better, stronger yet lighter materials and specialised composites that make it near indestructable, and the extra weight means its just that awesome.

  • Mike

    The German Tiger’s may have blasted Sherman’s in WW2. The Tigers weighed in at 60 tonnes and the Sherman’s weighed in at 30 tonnes. The Tigers had a 88mm gun compared to the Sherman’s 75mm gun and the 88 was way better…..But, the Germans had only 2000 Tigers and the Allies had 50,000 Sherman’s. The moral of the story is the more tanks you have the better…….so an over priced GCV sounds like a loser to me….

  • Mike

    I remember when the Bradley first came out. The biggest concern they had was that it was amphibious. I thought this stupid. The firing ports, thin armor, and the the way it carried its ammo made it a death trap. Israel refused to buy it for this same reason. The original Bradley was made based on the abilities of the BMP 2, another death trap. They couldn’t use Bradley’s at the Wacco incident due to their weak armor. I can see from the comments that the understanding of combined arms hasn’t improved over the years. We probably still have West Pointers graduating without understanding this at a fire team level. The weight is irrelevant as long as it can be transported by rail. The Israelies have combated tested APCs of this nature, converted centurion tanks, and they are good in close quarter.