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
Matthew Cox is a reporter at He can be reached at
  • 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
      • majr0d

        Roy, haven’t heard that this is going to be turbine powered. Where did you see that?

        • Greg

          The engine statement is not completely true. The Abrams is turbine powered. The two GCV entrants are powered by different engines from the same manufacturer, but both being Diesel. Roy still has it partially right, because GD has been working on an R&D project to replace the turbine with a diesel engine, which would be the same engine as their GCV.

          • majr0d

            I knew the Army has been kicking around a diesel powerpack for the M1 since around ’05. Thanks for the tidbit.

          • Roy Smith
          • Lance

            Disagree the same engine in a M-1 well a GCV will be alot taller and wider hence way too BIG. Overall the main opposition is that the M-2 does not need replacing at all its fine better than any BMP or Chinese APC knock off in the world. This whole program is pork by some “everything must be new” dimwit General. The Bradley is getting updated so it will have everything electronically a GCV will have SO NO point in spending BILLIONS! on a failed GCV!

    • majr0d

      Lance – The GCV is not bigger or slower. Read slower so you understand more…

    • Tom

      Not necessarily. Not that I’m arguing in favor of this thing. Seems it’s for a threat we aren’t necessarily facing. But… the restriction of 2 M1 Abrams isn’t weight, but space. Same with Bradley’s. The C5 could hold the same number of GCVs. The problem is, where could it go? Weight and size reduces the ability to cross bridges and maneuver in smaller streets in urban areas. So, what mission is it to fill? That’s my question.

    • zak

      Congress made the fiscal crisis with some help from a series of fiscally irresponsible presidents.

    • jack dawson

      maybe it’s not meant to leave the country?

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • majr0d

      You know we keep saying the next one won’t be a surprise and get it wrong every time.

      There’s a lesson there…

      There’s also the fact that airpower is not 24/7 or not weather dependent. Don’t believe everything the airpower enthusiast sell. Air power can’t supress, there’s limited payload on an airplane and we haven’t fought anyone with a lick of air defense. I’ve had “experts” try and make the case for the supremacy of aviation airpower. They could never answer how they could provide smoke to obscure friendly movement or put a continual wall of steel between my troops and the enemy IF they were able to fly and get to me in time.

      • Warfighter

        Or forget that the conflict in South Ossetia a short while ago seemed to catch many by surprise. It can still happen.

      • BajaWarrior

        So are you trying to make the case that you don’t need support from air power?

        • majr0d

          No not saying we don’t need airpower. Don’t even know how you got that from what I said.

          Did you understand my comment was in response to Max saying all major firepower on the battlefield can be supplied by the air?

    • P.J. Busche

      Max, your logic is beaurocratic, and devoid of common sense. Have you ever even served in the military?

    • Big-Dean

      Sorry to disagree with ya Max, but we’ve been lucky with our last couple of conflicts

      -Gulf war I-we had 9 months to build up and we had friendly and protected ports nearby and our transport ships were UNCONTESTED i.e. they weren’t under any threat
      -Gulf war II-pretty much the same

      now the next war we will NOT have:
      -friendly ports
      -9 months to prep
      -lots of shipping capacity (we’re down a lot in transports etc and you can be darn sure that the ‘bad guys” will be looking to sink them)

      No my friend, the next war will be very sudden and very massive. We will not have much warning and we will have to fight with what’s in theater. It will be a come-as-you-are war.

  • 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.

        • IdiotKidWho Reads

          Apparently Idiot Kid Who Reads Alot needs to be spaced out more…

    • 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.

      • Will Leach
      • tmb2

        Not only were there an order of magnitude more Shermans, but they could travel at twice the speed of a Tiger. German engine technology didn’t develop fast enough to keep up with the heavier tanks. Every new Panzer was slower than its predecessor.

        • zak

          and nobody in their right mind wanted to go in a Sherman to take on Tigers. The fact we produced so many more Shermans is what allowed us to win vs Tigers and Panthers, not the added speed. ! on 1 the tigers would win every time. So your point is pointless.

    • 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?

    • blight_

      Depends on mass. If you can transport more people using less vehicles, then the cost of extending two vehicles is often less than the cost of trying to carry another vehicle and overhead just to carry the same number of troops.

  • 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.

    • matt

      Sounds like a middle school pipe dream….

    • tmb2

      And all the passengers have to be dragged out on stretchers and body bags because the blast wave tossed the vehicle in the air, dropped it on its head, and they broke every bone in their bodies…


    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.

  • Scott

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

    • matt

      Take note of the model of those tanks in Syria. Obsolete is one word that comes to mind. It would be a fools argument to say that they are comparative to a vehicle built from the ground up in the United States in modern times.

  • 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.

  • SGT B

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

    • JEFF

      I think the Germans made something like that, called the Maus.

      • SGT B

        Yah it was big and slow and 11 inches of armor!

        • majr0d

          You guys are confusing the issue. The Maus was a tank and didn’t carry any infantry. You might know the difference but folks will pick up on your hperbole and run with it.

  • 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.

    • John Beckman

      The Marines need their version of the F-35 because the present aircraft that this F-35 version is to take the place of is the latest Harrier Aircraft, which is also the only VTOL aircraft, other than this particular F-35 version the Marines need! The present Harrier aircraft has continued to kill pilots at a rapid rate, since its coming into the Marines inventory, compared to any other present Marine aircraft. If I am correct, its the F-35B that is the VTOL aircraft version that is going to the Marines. However, I do agree that Lockheed has continued to “UP” the pricing of this F-35B aircraft simply because of “Greed”…it is too bad that Lockheed has lost its “Vision” in producing aircraft for our proud military services that are not super costly and are proudly “Made in the USA” as great aircraft that work like they are supposed to work!

  • 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.

  • 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.