The US Army has made a decision on the long-awaited Mobile Protected Fire, or MPF program
The US Army has been without a light tank since the retirement of the M551 Sheridan in the early 1990s. The US Army has made a decision on the long-awaited Mobile Protected Fire, or MPF program, a project to provide the Army with a light tank. The machine is essentially a light tank, an armored turreted and tracked vehicle with a big gun. The contract, awarded to General Dynamics Land Systems. The total life-cycle cost of the program, including sustainment, military construction and personnel, is estimated at $17 billion. The Army plans to buy 504 vehicles, which are projected to be in the inventory for at least 30 years.
MPF is basically a replacement for the M551. The Army is steadfast in its insistence that Mobile Protected Firepower is a non-tank. Although it can fulfill some tank missions, it lacks the armored protection to slug it out with other tanks and survive on a battlefield saturated with anti-tank guided missiles. MPF is meant to boost the firepower of tank-less units without loaning them 68-ton Abrams main battle tanks that are heavier and trickier to deploy overseas.
Army units with MPFs would likely keep them behind the front line, bringing them up to deal with stubborn obstacles such as enemy bunkers, strongpoints, and light armored vehicles. Although infantry have their own M3E1 recoilless rifles and Javelin anti-tank missiles, sometimes you just need a big gun to blow things up. In a pinch, MPFs could fend off full-sized enemy tanks, but the lack of heavy armor makes only defensive battles feasible.
According to information from the manufacturer, the new vehicle weighs about 38 tons, much lighter than Abrams. This could give the Army far more logistical ease than the MBT. It is based on a light tank conventional layout with the driver and engine at the front, and the turret located at the rear of the hull. The turret has a crew of three including a commander, gunner, and loader.
The vehicle is fitted with a 105mm turret gun. The turret architecture is based on the M1 Abrams tank using the M1A2 Sep V3 fire control system and CITV. There is also a 12.7mm heavy machine gun, mounted on the commander hatch. The tank’s mobility and relative firepower will provide soldiers with speed, protection, lethality and the ability to wage a multi-domain battle, working in concert with other ground forces to overwhelm the enemy with multiple simultaneous challenges. Mobility is provided by a Diesel engine instead of the turbine used on the Abrams MBT.
A light tank is easier to quickly deploy globally, and once in the theater, the smaller vehicles could cross lighter bridges, pass through narrower city streets, and wade through marshier terrain than huge M1 Abrams main battle tanks that are currently in use. The US is not the only country interested in rapidly-deployable light tanks. India has recently given approval for the design and development of light tanks in the wake of increased Chinese aggression in the Himalayas, particularly after the conflict that broke out in the summer of 2020. And the US of course will not be able to stay out of the light tank competition.