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National Defense > Blog > Posts > Not All New Combat Vehicle Programs Will Survive Budget Cuts, Analyst Says
Not All New Combat Vehicle Programs Will Survive Budget Cuts, Analyst Says
By Valerie Insinna



Shifting strategies and looming budget constraints may force the Defense Department to put one of its ground combat vehicles on the chopping block, according to a report released Oct. 3 by Frost & Sullivan.
 
Mike Blades, senior industry analyst with the firm, said of three major new ground combat vehicle programs — the Army’s new Ground Combat Vehicle and Armored Multipurpose Vehicle and the Marine Corps’ Amphibious Combat Vehicle — one will not survive.
 
That may pit the Army against the Marine Corps in the budget battles.
 
"There are three new starts that are going to be happening, and I would eventually guess that at least one of them doesn't happen,” he said. “And I would also guess that one of the two that does happen is going to be based on something that already exists.”
 
Sales of ground combat vehicles totaled more than $3.67 billion in 2011, said the report, “Analysis of the DoD Ground Combat Vehicle Market.”

The study projects sales will decrease to $3.19 by 2017. About $1.1 billion was spent in 2012 on modifications and upgrades to ground combat vehicles. Blades forecast an average decrease of 5 to 10 percent each year until 2017.
 
The new vehicles will likely to be based on existing commercial or government off-the-shelf platforms, said Blades. Upgrades take a preference over building vehicles from-the-ground-up, he added.
 
Sequestration, which could trigger about $1 trillion in spending cuts at the Defense Department, is another potential pitfall for ground combat vehicle programs. Blades said he doesn’t believe sequestration will occur, but if it does, all modernization programs will be at risk.
 
Heavy ground combat vehicles could become increasingly less necessary as the Defense Department pivots to the Asia-Pacific region, he said. That may favor the Marine Corps.  
 
"There may be an increased need for the new amphibious vehicle that they're talking about doing in the next five or so years, but they're not going to have as much need for the ground combat vehicles,” he said.
 
The Amphibious Combat Vehicle is scheduled to enter the Marine Corps fleet sometime around 2030 and is a replacement to the Amphibious Assault Vehicles the Marines have been using since the 1970s. Marine Corps officials have said the aging AAV fleet is undergoing a service life extension that will carry the vehicles to at least 2025.
 
The Armored Multipurpose Vehicle is slated to replace the M113 family of armored personnel carriers of which the Army has about 6,000. Contracts will go out to replace the 3,000 currently attached to heavy brigade combat teams in the current fiscal year.
 
The Ground Combat Vehicle is the Army’s program to replace armored vehicles attached to its brigade combat teams. Plans are to begin fielding a platform by 2017 that can carry at least nine soldiers, plus crew in improvised explosive device threat environments. The Army wants eventually to purchase about 1,800 infantry fighting vehicles.
 
Photo Credit: Marines

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