WASHINGTON — The Army has scheduled the initial operational test for its newest tracked vehicle to begin the second quarter of fiscal 2022, a spokesperson for the program office leading the effort told Defense News.
The BAE Systems-manufactured Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) has already begun production qualification testing and has continued live fire testing ahead of the operational evaluation.
The first fielding for AMPV is projected in the second quarter of FY23, roughly a year after the start of the IOT&E, according to the Army’s Program Executive Office for Ground Combat Systems (PEO GCS).
The program has experienced some delays with BAE failing to meet the July 2020 first delivery date schedule due to production challenges and effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The company fell behind providing vehicles for live fire test events by roughly six to eight months beyond the original schedule, according to the Pentagon’s chief weapons tester in a report published earlier this year.
A full-rate production decision is scheduled for the third quarter of FY22, according to the report.
The Army has already scaled back its AMPV buy in FY21 due to delays. Originally the service planned to buy 143 in that year but now is purchasing just 32. The total objective requirement remains the same across the service’s five-year budget plan.
The program began low-rate initial production in January 2019 but the program office noted that production qualification testing would be delayed by seven months due to tooling and assembly line challenges at BAE’s York, Pennsylvania, production facility.
In a recent Director of Operational Test and Evaluation review of the program, the Army Test and Evaluation Command identified 24 items during AMPV’s limited user test in FY19 that needed to be corrected.
The Army said in a recent statement to Defense News that, overall, the 2019 test was a success and the fixes included “minor movement of mission equipment packages to reduce interference” and in the medical evacuation variant, “improvements in operating the litter lift system and medical treatment table.”
The design updates “were determined to be quick wins and have either already been incorporated into the first low-rate initial production AMPVs or will be implemented prior to the First Unit Equipped,” the Army program office said.
The repairs will be re-evaluated during production qualification testing and the IOT&E, the office said.
Specifically, the Improved Commanders Weapon Station (iCWS) will be tested on a limited number of vehicles during both testing events and if successful will be implemented prior to going out to the first unit equipped.
A few remaining issues exist, according to the Army, and the user community and the program will continue to work with the science and technology community on potential solutions “because of design complexity,” according to the program office.
The AMPVs also experienced roof and hatch leaks because new components matched with legacy components created imperfect seals, but improvements have been implemented by BAE for the first production units, the Army said.
Still, “early fabrication issues and use of legacy components still prevent achieving a perfect seal, but changes made will result in an improvement from LUT,” the service noted.
A complete redesign of legacy hatches and ramps will be based on available funding, the Army said.
And “currently, we are pursuing a short-term, Army approved design update to the mortar hatch spring pack to ease opening. We are working to implement this design improvement for our full rate production units,” the service said.
And while there are no fixes without industry solutions, “complexity and funding will drive design fixes for AMPV,” the service said.
Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science degree in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College.