HUNTSVILLE, Ala.—BAE Systems on Tuesday unveiled a new technology demonstrator vehicle built to demonstrate advanced technologies, including 360-degree target recognition sensors and active protection systems, for potential use on the Army’s range of future combat vehicles.
Jim Miller, BAE Systems’ senior director of business development, told Defense Daily the new tech demonstrator is based on the company’s Mobile Protected Firepower offering and is designed to showcase new capabilities on actual vehicle as the Army shifts its focus to platforms that are technology-centric.
“The idea is there’s a lot of technology the Army’s looking at for future combat vehicles, certainly a lot of things we’ve been working on for years. And we’ve got a lot of partners that do advanced technologies who work on combat vehicles,” Miller said. “We’ll use this asset to integrate those onto a vehicle, get out, test it, get a feel for if it’s going to work, and then be able to integrate into future vehicle programs that the Army’s got coming up.”
The company is showcasing the demonstrator vehicle for the first time here at this week’s AUSA Global Force Symposium.
“We haven’t come up with a cool name for it yet,” Miller said.
New capabilities integrated on the current display vehicle include BAE Systems’ own RAVEN jammer and new 360-degree Multi-Function Vehicle Protection Sensor, as well as IMI Systems’ Iron First active protection system and a vehicle “suit” designed by Sweden’s Saab to lower a vehicle’s infrared signature.
“When you go after those most advanced technologies that still need developing, they need maturity and testing, this gives you a venue to do that,” Miller said. “Or you can take existing technologies, like the 360-degree sensor, and you integrate that with some of the new technologies and what you find is you don’t have one plus one equals two, you get one plus one equals three or four or five.”
Army officials have previously said its future combat vehicles approach, including the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle and Robotic Combat Vehicle, will focus on procuring a proven vehicle base that is capable of taking on advanced technologies that may still need development.
“It gives us options on every program that’s out there,” Miller said. “We’re trying to get an idea of where we can go, and what we can bring to the Army that says this is better than what you have now, this is going to give you a decided advantage on the battlefield, and do you want this on your vehicle”
BAE Systems has previously indicated interest in offerings its CV90 vehicle for the Army’s Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle set to replace its Bradleys, and last December it was awarded a contract along with General Dynamics [GD] to build prototypes for the ultra-light tank MPF program (Defense Daily, Dec. 2019).
Last fall, BAE Systems participated in a soft-kill “rodeo” demonstration where it tested the RAVEN electronic countermeasure capability on a Bradley fighting vehicle.
The Army announced in January it has selected RAVEN to advance in its soft-kill program over offerings from Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin, with plans to demonstrate the system at a layered active protection system test this summer (Defense Daily, Feb. 15).
Ryan Edwards, BAE Systems’ business development manager for soldier & vehicle solutions, told Defense Daily the tech demonstrator is the first vehicle to be integrated with its new 360 MVP sensor after also bringing it to the earlier soft-kill rodeo.
“This camera that gives you a greater field of view for better driving, will also do automatic detection of a threat launch. So it can be part of the cueing system for an active protection system,” Edwards said. “When we can provide 360-degree situational awareness, better potential lethality, when you do some automated target recognition, when you reduce the crew’s cognitive load and cue an active protection system with our countermeasure for less than 300 pounds per vehicle, that raises some eyebrows.”