WASHINGTON -- Of all of the five vehicles of the Army's planned Next Generation Combat Vehicles modernization priority, a replacement for the Bradley is paramount, said Brig. Gen. Ross Coffman.

Coffman, director of the NGCV Cross-Functional Team, or CFT, spoke at the Association of the United States Army's Annual Meeting and Exposition, Oct. 9.

The Bradley replacement, the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle, is a critical step in achieving overmatch against near-peer adversaries, he said. The replacement is urgent because "the Bradley is at its end of its service life," he added.

The Bradley Fighting Vehicle no longer has decisive overmatch in lethality and protection and has reached the limits of its growth capacity, he explained. The OMFV is necessary to obtain future growth margins in size, weight, architecture, power, and cooling, or SWAP-C.

The proposed timeline for the OMFV has a request for proposal to be released early 2019, an engineering and manufacturing development contract to be awarded in early fiscal year 2020, and low-rate initial production to begin in fiscal year 2023, he said. Fielding is planned by the end of fiscal year 2026.

The second vehicle within the NGCV CFT is the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle. It will be the replacement for the M113 family of vehicles, which cannot be upgraded anymore, Coffman said. Because the M113 is at the end of its life, its replacement is also a priority.

The AMPV program recently completed a successful Limited User Test, or LUT, as well as a large majority of the developmental testing scheduled prior to the Milestone C decision, currently scheduled for November 2018.

The planned timeline for the AMPV is an LRIP contract award in fiscal year 2019, followed by testing and the first unit to be equipped beginning in fiscal year 2022, he said.

The third vehicle is the Mobile Protected Firepower. It is a replacement for what was the M551 light Sheridan tank, which last saw service in 1996. The Army remains on track to award an Engineering and Manufacturing Development or EMD, contract for up to two vendors in the 1st quarter of fiscal year 2019.

"An LRIP contract for the MPF will be awarded in fiscal year 2022, followed by testing and the first units equipped in fiscal year 2025," Coffman added.

The Robotic Combat Vehicle is the fourth vehicle in the NGCV, he said. Procurement could begin as early as fiscal year 2024, depending on the preceding experimentation phase.

The final vehicle is the Next Generation Tank, which will replace the M1 Abrams tank. However, the Abrams still has room for more upgrades, so the urgency to replace it is not as great as the Bradley and M113, Coffman said. Procurement of the NGT could conceivably start in fiscal year 2024.

The NGT actually does not have to be a tank, Coffman said. It just has to be "decisive and lethal."

Industry will be given wide latitude to come up with creative ideas, not just for the NGT, but for all variants, he said.

He added that industry doesn't have to come up with a vehicle, since surrogate vehicles are available for experimentation. Just come up with ideas for components and bring them to the Army, he encouraged.

NGCV IS ABOUT OVERMATCH

The reason the NGCV is the number two Army modernization priority, after long-range precision fires, is because potential enemies have narrowed the standoff gap, Coffman said.

The new fleet of vehicles is necessary to maintain advantage and win in the future operating environment, he said.

Unmanned NGCV variants will play an important part on the future battlefields in closing this gap, he said. They will contain sensors that can detect smoke and chemicals and be tied into the network. They will also be armed, with the decision to fire being made by humans in the loop, he added.