Mobile Protected Firepower Bridges Infantry Brigade Combat Team Direct Fire Capability Gap

Mobile Protected Firepower Bridges Infantry Brigade Combat Team Direct Fire Capability Gap

by Josh Cohen via The National Interest


Josh Cohen


Estimates state up to 500 vehicles could be procured for Army and National Guard infantry brigades.

Expected for release this later this month, a draft request for proposals will take US Army plans to add “Mobile Protected Firepower” to its Infantry Brigade Combat Teams (IBCT) a step closer to realization. The vehicle selected to fulfill the service’s emerging requirement will also determine if a long dormant capability is revived; battlefield delivery of light tank-type vehicles by airdrop. The 1996 retirement of the 82nd Airborne Division’s M-551 Sheridan armored reconnaissance vehicles, and cancellation of the M-8 Armored Gun System, the Sheridan’s intended replacement, left the Army’s airborne formations with a direct fire capability gap the service intends to restore with a new combat vehicle.  

“We expect to issue a draft RFP sometime in June with a final following in December, for the vehicle selected, airdrop capability is an objective, not definitive, requirement,”  according to Colonel William T. Nuckols, director of the Mounted Requirements Division at the US Army Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, Georgia. Nuckols spoke with the National Interest on May 17, confirming imminent release of the draft RFP by email on June 12. Nickols’ group is central to ensuring the selected vehicle fulfills the requirement to provide infantry with the capability to engage line of site targets with a large caliber gun, from a mobile, protected platform. 

Initially, MPF requirements were drawn up to re-equip Army airborne formations with an air-droppable light tank. Plans changed as the service saw need to provide its regular IBCTs with a fire support vehicle offering mobility and survivability not available from comparable in-service assets such as the M-2 Bradley. Envisioned organizational structure calls for each Army’s IBCT to receive an MPF company, approximately 14 vehicles. “We are planning for a vehicle to primarily support our IBCT in standard configuration, rather than one that would be configured only for airborne,” Nuckols said.

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