General Dynamics Land Systems began assembling the Army’s Mobile Protected Firepower system in November, after being selected in June to build the light tank.

The first new combat vehicle to join the force in nearly four decades, the MPF system is meant to improve mobility, protection and direct-fire capabilities on the battlefield, originally reported by Army Times sister publication Defense News

The system includes a new chassis – or base frame – design. The turret is new, said Kevin Vernagus, the GDLS director for the MPF system, while working to maintain an interior and controls like an Abrams tank.

The service expects to spend about $6 billion over the course of MPF’s procurement process. Estimates suggest that the total life-cycle cost of the program will total around $17 billion.

The first production of MPF will be delivered to the service in late 2023, with an initial delivery of vehicles. However, the contract stipulates that the Army is allowed to purchase up to 70 more over the course of early production for a total of more than $1.1 billion.

Beating out competitor BAE Systems, GDLS delivered 12 prototypes to be evaluated by soldiers in the 82nd Airborne Division. Despite positive marks compared to its competitors, GDLS is coordinating with the Army to fix some issues with overheating experienced at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona.

Army leaders plan on buying 504 vehicles meant to be in the service’s inventory for at least 30 years. Most of the procurement should be finished by 2035.

Zamone “Z” Perez is a reporter at Military Times. He previously worked at Foreign Policy and Ufahamu Africa. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, where he researched international ethics and atrocity prevention in his thesis. He can be found on Twitter @zamoneperez.

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