The Army’s new program for multi-purpose armored vehicles is on track in terms of production vehicles, budget and testing, officials with the service and prime contractor BAE Systems said on Monday.

Performance testing began in July and reliability testing is expected to begin later this month and so far, the Armored Multi-Purposed Vehicle (AMPV) is on schedule and budget and is meeting performance requirements, Col. Michael Milner, project manager for AMPV within the Army’s Program Executive Office for Ground Combat Systems, said.

BAE has delivered 17 vehicles and is on track to deliver 29 as scheduled this year, James Miller, director of Business Development for Combat Vehicles at BAE, said. Six of the early production AMPVs have been delivered to the Army’s testing grounds in Yuma, Ariz., and six for testing at the service’s testing range in Aberdeen, Md., he said. Five of the vehicles are in logistics development.

Milner and Miller spoke to reporters at a media briefing at the annual Association of the U.S. Army exposition in Washington, D.C. BAE is displaying the 13th production AMPV at the show, on loan for a week from the Army. This is the first time the company has displayed a production variant of the vehicle publicly outside of its manufacturing facility in York, Pa. 

AMPV. Photo: BAE Systems.
Photo: BAE Systems.

Once the performance and reliability testing is completed, the Army in late 2018 will begin a limited user test with a unit and let soldiers put the AMPV through the paces in an operational environment to obtain feedback to ensure the service has the right configuration, Milner said.

The AMPV program is currently in engineering and manufacturing development. The operational test will run through 2019 although a decision event to enter low-rate initial production is slated for the second quarter of the government’s fiscal year 2019.

If the Army is greenlighted for production, BAE will produce the first “tranche” of AMPVs that will also be put through testing to “prove” the vehicle can be built on the production line and still meet requirements, Milner said.

BAE built prototype AMPVs on a production line in York instead of being cobbled together individually as is frequently typical of prototype efforts, Milner said. This way will give the actual production program a “head start” by working through issues that often confront the start of production, he said.

BAE is expected to produce 289 AMPVs in three years for LRIP. On top of that, the Army also plans to buy AMPVs as part of the European defense initiative over the first four years. Between the LRIP and European efforts, BAE will produce between 600 and 700 AMPVs over four years.

The York facility is currently able to produce a brigade set of AMPVs annually, which is 131 vehicles, Miller said. The Army and BAE are working to increase that production capacity and Milner said that by year four of the production program the plant will churn out more than 200 AMPVs annually.

The AMPV will replace the M113 armored personnel carrier that the Army first fielded in 1962. The general-purpose vehicle AMPV that BAE is displaying at AUSA features bar and reactive armor, a driver’s vision enhancement, integrated blast protection, a front light for route clearance operations, counter-improvised explosive device jammers, and a CROWS remote machine gun. The production vehicle is also about two-inches taller and wider than the early prototypes to provide more headroom and for the armor.

Milner pointed out that the AMPV has about 60 percent commonality with the Bradley Fighting Vehicle and M109 Paladin self-propelled howitzer, both built by BAE. The vehicles have the same engine, driver’s compartment, transmission, suspension and some other key components, which helps with the logistics and support on the battlefield, he said.