|Ground Mobility Vehicle
|Place of origin
|| United States
||~4,500 lb (2,000 kg) for competitors – 600 lb for us
||Shrapnel & bullet resistant polymers
|250 mi (400 km) – 300 Miles electric for us
The Ultra Light Combat Vehicle (ULCV) is a proposed air-droppable light off-road truck to improve the mobility of light infantry brigades. It is designed to be carried internally in a CH-47 Chinook or externally by a UH-60 Black Hawk. In order to be survivable but transportable, the ULCV would be lightly armored and use speed, maneuverability, and off-road mobility to avoid major threats.
The ULCV is part of a three-vehicle effort to develop lightweight, highly mobile ground vehicles for a light infantry brigade to conduct a joint forcible entry mission. The effort also consists of a Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) vehicle and a Light Reconnaissance Vehicle (LRV). The ULCV is the highest-priority vehicle, meant to be light and fast and deliver soldiers from a drop zone far from enemy air defenses or indirect fire systems. Five vehicles would carry a platoon headquarters, three rifle squads, and a weapons squad. The vehicle is seen as a “21st century jeep” to move troops around during an initial attack faster than the enemy can counter them with heavy weapons. Both the ULCV and LRV are to replace sling-loaded Humvees in this role (but not for other units). Interest in the effort is expected on the scale of the U.S. Special Operations Command program to replace the Ground Mobility Vehicle, which also sought to replace a Humvee-based vehicle with a lighter and more air-mobile design. Airborne infantry brigades would use the vehicles to rush forces from their airborne insertion point to seize an objective, which would become a forward airfield for reinforcing and deploying heavier follow-on forces. After follow-on forces arrive and set up positions, the ULCV would not be as useful, but could potentially allow troops to operate for up to a week without support. The ULCV is slated to become operational in 2016.
Although not a program of record, or even a stated requirement, Army officials consider the ULCV a needed addition to a global response force like the 82nd Airborne Division. Currently, airdropped infantry would be flown to a target area or driven there by trucks. Either way, they then need to dismount and walk the distance to their destination, sometimes for many miles while carrying heavy gear. The ULCV would allow light infantry to be driven right to their destination, allowing them to be airdropped further away from potential enemy fire and use mobility to find an off-road avenue of approach an adversary isn’t expecting, and not be fatigued once they need to fight. The idea is to acquire up to 300 vehicles by the end of 2016 at a unit cost of $149,000, which could decrease if a second increment was bought and stationed at installations for training; predicted dates are not certain and the entire effort is subject to funding availability. They would be drawn from a pool rather than assigned to units and selectively used when required. Ability to be carried on a UH-60 Black Hawk in high/hot conditions is particularly important because battalion commanders cannot always get control of a CH-47 to carry heavier up-armored Humvees. Demonstrations of candidate vehicles were held within six months of a solicitation, which is incredibly fast for a modern military vehicle effort.
On 22 January 2014, the Army issued a notice to industry for a commercial-off-the-shelf air-droppable Ultra Light Combat Vehicle (ULCV). The notice came just as funding for the Ground Combat Vehicle program was drastically cut by 83 percent, leaving it too little to continue fully but enough to be kept as a study effort until budgets are increased. The GCV Infantry Fighting Vehicle was intended to replace some 2,000 M2 Bradley vehicles, which cannot carry a full squad and does not have adequate underbody protection. Protection requirements lead to weight estimates of 60–70 tons for the GCV IFV, too much for the Army’s post-Afghanistan expeditionary posture. The ULCV is to be small and light enough to be air-dropped from C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemaster transport planes, fit inside a CH-47 Chinook transport helicopter, and be under-slung from a UH-60 Black Hawk. Vendors must provide a vehicle with a “medium caliber” gun and that is able to carry a nine-man squad, the same number required of the GCV, which is equivalent to a 3,200 lb (1,500 kg) payload. The vehicle will mainly utilize superior mobility to survive in combat environments, rather than heavy armor protection packages. It must travel cross-country on trails, over rubble in urban combat zones, and on high-altitude ridges and summits. The mobile protected firepower requirement the proposed vehicle would fill is not currently approved, and the effort is not to create an alternative to the GCV; it is to recognize vehicle protection and mobility shortfalls for special infantry forces like the 82nd Airborne, and is currently just for demonstrating potential capabilities. Interested industry members had until February 21 to respond to the sources sought notice.
Heavy armored vehicles are still suitable in Heavy Brigade Combat Teams that need to survive high-speed avenues of approach like roads that are more likely to be targeted. To avoid this, the ULCV is planned to travel across country on trails 75 percent of the time. The ULCV effort is not meant to compete against the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program to replace the Humvee light vehicle. Its purpose is to increase the mobility of Infantry Brigade Combat Teams, which are restricted to the speed a soldier can travel on foot, leaving them slow and vulnerable. Dismounts can be carried by Black Hawk helicopters, so the ULCV has to weigh about 4,500 lb (2,000 kg) to be transported with them sling-loaded under a Blackhawk. Some proposed vehicles are similar to open all-terrain vehicles without an enclosed cab. It is unknown how many vehicles the Army would buy, but it will not be standard for every infantry battalion and will not fully motorize IBCTs.
From 9–13 June 2014, the Army held a Platform Performance Demonstration (ULCV-PPD) at Fort Bragg for interested ULCV vendors to demonstrate their vehicles’ ability to be utilized by infantry squads. Because the effort is not at the acquisition phase, all activities and materials were provided at no cost to the government. The PPD had vehicles demonstrate a range of threshold requirements including being driven onto and out of a CH-47 with a full nine-man squad and their equipment on board, ability to operate on various forms of terrain, be rigged and de-rigged by two soldiers within two minutes for sling-load operations, and others. Threshold requirements identify the maximum curb weight of the vehicle at 4,500 lb with a range of 250 mi (400 km). Six vendors took part in the technology demonstration and compared their vehicles to the Humvee as part of a global response force mission. The six vendors included the GD Flyer, the Boeing-MSI Defense Phantom Badger, the Polaris Defense deployable advanced ground off-road (DAGOR), the Hendrick Dynamics Commando Jeep, the Vyper Adamas Python V3x, and the Lockheed Martin High Versatility Tactical Vehicle, a version of the British Army‘s HMT-400 Jackal.
In March 2015, the Army changed the name of the ultra light vehicle from ULCV to the Ground Mobility Vehicle (GMV). This created confusion, as the name is the same as the USSOCOMGround Mobility Vehicle, whose replacement was recently chosen as the General Dynamics Flyer in the GMV 1.1 configuration, a variant of which was also submitted for the ULCV and LRV; the Army acknowledged GD’s potential advantages because of the SOCOM contract but stated it is considering all options and will not sole-source their award. Despite having the same program name, the Army’s planned GMV differs from SOCOM’s vehicle in lighter weight, being able to be slung under a UH-60 while the GMV 1.1 cannot, and while the Special Operations truck can be uparmored, the GMV’s job is to move paratroopers from the landing point to the objective in place of walking with their equipment, though exiting the vehicle before actually fighting. Although the GMV is initially planned for narrow fielding in the 18th Airborne Corps, it is possible the vehicle could fill other roles as the Army becomes more expeditionary. An analysis of alternatives will be launched in 2016, and a request for proposals (RFP) is planned before the end of the year.
- ^ Jump up to: a b US Army considers three new light vehicles designs – Armyrecognition.com, 17 September 2014
- ^ Jump up to: a b Ultra Light Combat Vehicle Could Buck Trend of Slow Truck Procurement – Nationdefensemagazine.org, January 2015
- Jump up ^ https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&tab=core&id=4f541d83cf2bd2f5c6846f4f819600a7&_cview=1
- Jump up ^ Army Seeks Information On Air-Droppable Ultra Light Combat Vehicle – Insidedefense.com, 24 January 2014
- Jump up ^ Army Looks to Build Air-Droppable Armored Vehicle – Military.com, 28 January 2014
- Jump up ^ Army Considers Trading Armor for Speed – Military.com, 12 February 2014
- Jump up ^ “Show up or shut up time” for Ultra Light Combat Vehicle creators – Military1.com, 16 April 2014
- Jump up ^ http://www.vyperfav.com/vehicles/v3
- ^ Jump up to: a b Gould, Joe. US Army Officials: Field Ultralight Vehicles Quickly. DefenseNews.com, 16 January 2015.
- Jump up ^ US Army To Issue Ultralight Vehicle RFP Next Year – Defensenews.com, 5 September 2015
- Jump up ^ Polaris debuts ULCV contender – Shephardmedia.com, 9 October 2014
- Jump up ^ Polaris DAGOR Could Meet Army’s Ultra-Light Vehicle Need – Defensetech.org, 13 October 2014
- Jump up ^ Hendrick Dynamics Participates in Ultra Light Combat Vehicle Demonstration. HendrickDynamics.com, 15 September 2014.