YEAR IN REVIEW: Soldiers take next steps, preparing for future fight

By Joe Lacdan, Army News ServiceDecember 29, 2022

(Photo Credit: Courtesy photos, collage by Staff Sgt. Randy Roberts) VIEW ORIGINAL

WASHINGTON — In 2022 the Army announced that the Next Generation Squad Weapon Program will become Soldiers’ primary firearms, awarded a defense contract for new, Mobile Protected Firepower vehicles and outlined its designs to build the Army of 2030.

The Army of 2030 is a plan to modernize and upgrade Army forces while preventing near peer adversaries from outpacing the service on the battlefield.

The branch also took the next step in its annual series of experiments, Project Convergence, and produced its Organic Industrial Base Modernization Implementation Plan to upgrade its facilities and work force across its organic industrial base. The industrial base is comprised of 23 depots, arsenals and ammunition plants, which plays the critical role of providing crucial materiel and sustainment support to the Joint Force.

Finally, the Army announced in December that it had awarded the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft contract to Texas-based manufacturer Bell Textron.

Next Generation Squad Weapon

For the first time in 65 years, Soldiers will field a new standard service weapon. In the spring of 2022 the Army announced that the Next Generation Squad Weapon, consisting of the XM5 rifle and XM250 light machine gun, will replace the M4 carbine, M16 rifle and the M249 light machine gun.

The lightweight weapons will make Soldiers significantly more lethal, with improvements in accuracy and range and the capability of mitigating recoil, improved barrel performance, and integrated muzzle sounds and flash reduction.

Infantry Soldiers, cavalry scouts, medics, combat engineers and forward observers can expect distribution of the NGSW in fall 2022.

To upgrade overall performance, the new weapons system will move from the 5.56 mm ammunition of the M16 and M4 to the 6.8 mm series of ammunition.

The service awarded a 10-year contract to New Hampshire-based weapons manufacturer Sig Sauer who will produce and deliver the new weapons system and its ammunition.

Mobile Protected Firepower Program

Soon Mobile Protected Firepower vehicles will also help Soldiers move at a faster pace and will not restrict movement and flexibility when driving on off-road terrain. The MPF vehicles will help the service’s light-maneuver forces achieve overmatch against adversaries.

The Army announced plans to field up to 96 MPF vehicles that will give infantry brigades the ability to identify threat systems earlier and at greater distances and improve overall survivability.

Feedback from Soldiers who tested the vehicles directly impacted the design. The Army awarded the $1.14 billion contract to Michigan-based company General Dynamics Land Systems.

Army of 2030

In October, the Army unveiled the “Army of 2030,” its plan to fully prepare for the future battlefield and to outpace near-peer adversaries.

To fully ready its forces to meet the challenge of evolving threats, the Army outlined six lines of effort.

First, the service must acquire sensors to see at a wider range and at greater distances than enemies. Second, the Army will develop the capability to rapidly deploy lethal, low-signature combat forces from a wide range of locations to overwhelm the opposition.

Next, Soldiers will deliver accurate, long-range precision missiles as part of the joint, all-domain force to strike deep targets. Army leaders said the Army will protect itself from air, missile and drone attacks. The branch must also secure its data and shield communication with coalition forces and other U.S. military branches from enemy cyber and electronic attacks.

And finally, Soldiers will learn to sustain the fight over contested land and over time.

The Army will also shift how it organizes its forces, moving to larger formations capable of working with other military branches. Division and corps commanders will view the battlefield from a wider perspective while divisions and corps will develop weapons to attack enemies across multiple domains.

Project Convergence

In October and November, the Army expanded the scope, complexity and range of Project Convergence, its annual series of experiments to include participation among partner nations and other military branches.

The service began the event in 2020 to rapidly integrate joint, all-domain service capabilities and to achieve overmatch through greater speed, range and decision dominance.

The Army experimented with its capabilities at long distances across the Pacific, breaking up the series into two phases at two California locations: Camp Pendleton and Fort Irwin.

More than 4,000 service members, civilians and contractors took part in the experiments testing about 300 new technologies. The experiments took place in maritime environments across the Indo-Pacific at locations in Japan, the Philippines, Australia and Hawaii.

In addition to all five military branches taking part in the experiments, Australian and British troops participated and representatives from the Canadian and New Zealand militaries acted as observers.

Organic Industrial Base Modernization Implementation Plan

The Army outlined how it will modernize and upgrade its facilities processes through implementation of its Organic Industrial Base Modernization Implementation Plan.

Army Materiel Command and Doug Bush, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology will lead the 15-year, $16 billion plan in seven lines of effort that will augment the service’s industrial base.

The plan includes measures to update and modernize facilities, invest in tools and machinery, recruit and retain the best qualified work force and implement cybersecurity and protection.

The OIB modernization implementation plan will also improve production and manufacturing methods, participate in projects on health and safety and make energy use improvements while ensuring environmental safety compliance.

Future Long Range Assault Aircraft

The service took the next step in bringing the FLRAA capability to Soldiers in fall 2022. FLRAA, which will have a hybrid design that combines characteristics of planes and helicopters, will eventually replace the UH-60 Black Hawk as the Army’s utility and tactical transport helicopter.

The Army announced it had awarded the $1.3 billion FLRAA contract to Bell Textron on Dec. 5. The agreement will enable the service to continue with preliminary design development as well as the production and delivery of FLRAA virtual prototypes.

Maj. Gen. Walter Rugen, Future Vertical Lift Cross Functional Team director, said that the Army accelerated the development of the FLRAA capability by four years.

Related links:

Army of 2030: Collaboration key to Army modernization

Project Convergence 2022 to demonstrate futuristic joint, multinational warfighting technologies

Army News Service

ARNEWS archives