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Its new personnel carriers must be safe enough for troops yet light and maneuverable enough to be deployed rapidly in support of the Obama administration's shift in strategy away from long-term occupations.
Trying to develop a light truck and a heavy personnel carrier that do everything the Army wants won't be cheap and could mean "we're pricing ourselves out of land warfare," says Andrew Krepinevich, president of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a non-partisan defense think tank. He regularly advises top Defense officials.
The future, instead, could mean repairs, not replacements.
"I wouldn't gamble my house on those programs coming to fruition at the scale people are hoping," says Peter Singer, director of the 21st Century Defense Initiative at the Brookings Institution. Federal budgets will be too tight, political support for major new weapons programs will be lacking, and industry hasn't been able to deliver systems the Pentagon wants at a reasonable cost, Singer says.
"That triumvirate is setting them up for not complete replacement but more likely a series of upgrades to existing vehicles," Singer says.
On the drawing board
The Army hasn't had much luck in fielding new vehicles in recent years. The Army spent $18 billion to develop the Ground Combat Vehicle for its Future Combat System, only to scrap it in 2009 because it couldn't protect from improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Another project, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) meant to replace the workhorse Humvee, has been on the drawing board for more than a dozen years and still is not in production.
Despite that history, Lt. Gen. William Phillips, a top Army weapons buyer, says the Army has learned its lessons and will be able to field affordable vehicles relatively quickly.
Source: USA Today | Tom Vanden Brook