The Army’s program to replace its M113 armored personnel carriers with BAE Systems’ Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) is 90 days ahead of schedule with a production decision expected by Nov. 14, according to the lead program official.
Col. Mike Milner, AMPV project manager, said the completion of successful limited user testing two weeks ago and a new robotic welding at BAE Systems’ production facility contributed to the accelerated schedule.
“I don’t see anything groundbreaking to stop Milestone C,” Milner told reporters at this week’s Association of the United States Army conference in D.C. “I can successfully say the limited user test was a very big success for the Army. We were able to find out information from the soldiers. The vehicles performed very well. The squadron commander last week made a comment that his soldiers were very sad to see the AMPVs be loaded up on flatbeds and pulled away.”
The Army plans to eventually buy 2,897 AMPVs to replace the M113s deployed with its brigade combat teams.
Following the Milestone C decision, the AMPV will move into the final engineering & manufacturing development phase ahead of initial low rate intial production order for 117 vehicles. Under that eventual order, 52 AMPVs will be sent for final testing and the other 65 will be sent abroad as part of the European Defense Initiative.
“We did accelerate the Milestone C from the initial program plan, primarily due to the European Defense Initiative that AMPV is part of. So we’re accelerating deliveries of AMPVs to field to Europe,” Milner said.
Milner attributed the rapid pace of the program to a realization the Army had to stick with requirements that were technically achievable, an effort he said would be well replicated with other modernization efforts.
“This is where I think the Army is trying to go with its Futures Command and everything else, is really about getting that requirement right the first time so were not chasing after things that are not technically possible,” Milner said.
From the technical perspective, a new robotic welding system installed in BAE Systems’ York, Pa., production facility that is able to handle around 80 percent of the critical welds for the AMPV.
Milner said the longest weld for the vehicle would normally require 27 passes by employees, but the robot handles the job in a single pass.
BAE Systems was originally awarded the AMPV contract in 2014 and the first protoype vehicles were delivered in 2016.