WASHINGTON — After a bumpy start, the first Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) that will replace M113 armored personnel carriers for the U.S. Army rolled off the BAE Systems production line in York, Pennsylvania, Aug. 31 in a small virtual ceremony.
The coronavirus pandemic was only the most recent cause for delay, pushing delivery back by one month. The Army struggled with manufacturing problems as the tracked vehicle entered low-rate initial production and the schedule slipped from the originally planned March delivery.
The AMPV program entered LRIP in January 2019, but the program office indicated last year that delivery of the first vehicles would be delayed by two months and the completion of production qualification testing would be delayed by seven months due to tooling and assembly line challenges at BAE’s York facility.
Because of the issues, the Army’s AMPV budget request in FY21 showed the program took a hit. The service indicated it would buy 32 vehicles instead of the 143 planned for the fiscal year, and the program’s budget was cut from $445 million to $193 million.
The current LRIP contract, which was awarded in 2018, is for more than 450 vehicles.
The Army and BAE developed “a production approach that would allow us to incorporate efficiencies during LRIP that modernize manufacturing and increase the overall throughput of the program,” Amanda Niswonger, a BAE spokeswoman, told Defense News last month.
“This included installing new technology and processes such as robotic welding, digital X-ray, and advanced machining. And we worked closely with the Army to update and refine manufacturing processes to incorporate the most modern weld and inspection technology,” she said. “These changes had an impact on our delivery timeline which was not reflected in the original delivery schedule, but continues to meet the Army’s fielding schedule.”
“Finalizing the first AMPV for delivery marks a major milestone for the program and the U.S. Army,” Bill Sheehy, AMPV program director for BAE Systems’ Ground Vehicles product line, said in a Sept. 2 company statement. “The AMPV is designed to meet the Army’s missions for the Armored Brigade Combat Teams (ABCT), and lay the foundation for the future of the battlefield.”
The Mission Command vehicle variant was the first vehicle off the line and will play a central role in the Army’s future modernized network for ABCTs.
“It facilitates digital mission command, taking advantage of increased volume, protection, power and cooling capabilities and provides flexibility and growth capacity for command, control, communications and computer capabilities,” the company statement said.
Other AMPV variants are the General Purpose vehicle, the Mortar Carrier, the Medical Evacuation vehicle and the Medical Treatment vehicle.
“The AMPV family of vehicles provides significant power, mobility, interoperability, and survivability improvements for the ABCT,” Jeremy Tondreault, vice president and general manager of BAE Systems’ Combat Mission Systems, said. “The AMPV has demonstrated outstanding survivability and force protection as well as flexibility and growth for the future.”
According to BAE, the AMPV has completed nearly two dozen Army tests and “has consistently met or exceeded all of its requirements.”