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Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) Mobility, Reconnaissance, and Firepower Programs

09/26/2017

Infantry Brigade Combat Teams (IBCTs) constitute the Army’s “light” ground forces and are an important part of the nation’s ability to project forces overseas. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as current thinking by Army leadership as to where and how future conflicts would be fought, suggest IBCTs are limited operationally by their lack of assigned transport and reconnaissance vehicles as well as firepower against hardened targets and armored vehicles. 

There are three types of IBCTs: Light, Airborne, and Air Assault. Light IBCTs are primarily foot-mobile forces. Light IBCTs can move by foot, by vehicle, or by air (either air landed or by helicopter). Airborne IBCTs are specially trained and equipped to conduct parachute assaults. Air Assault IBCTs are specially trained and equipped to conduct helicopter assaults. 

Currently, the Army contends IBCTs face a number of limitations: 
-- The IBCT lacks the ability to decisively close with and destroy the enemy under restricted terrains such as mountains, littorals, jungles, subterranean areas, and urban areas to minimize excessive physical burdens imposed by organic material systems. 

--The IBCT lacks the ability to maneuver and survive in close combat against hardened enemy fortifications, light armored vehicles, and dismounted personnel. 

--IBCTs lack the support of a mobile protected firepower capability to apply immediate, lethal, long-range direct fires in the engagement of hardened enemy bunkers, light armored vehicles, and dismounted personnel in machine gun and sniper positions; with all-terrain mobility and scalable armor protection; capable of conducting operations in all environments. 

To address current limitations, the Army is undertaking three programs: the Ground Mobility Vehicle (GMV), formerly known as the Ultra-Light Combat Vehicle (ULCV); the Light Reconnaissance Vehicle (LRV); and Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) programs. These programs would be based on vehicles that are commercially available. This approach serves to reduce costs and the time it takes to field combat vehicles associated with traditional developmental efforts. 

The GMV is intended to provide mobility to the rifle squad and company. The LRV would provide protection to the moving force by means of scouts, sensors, and a variety of medium-caliber weapons, and the MPF would offer the IBCT the capability to engage and destroy fortifications, bunkers, buildings, and light-to-medium armored vehicles more effectively. 

Potential issues for Congress related to IBCTs include how the addition of new vehicles affects IBCT deployability; detailed plans for GMV, LRV, and MPF fielding; what additional resources are needed to support GMV, LRV, and MPF; the “way ahead” for the LRV; and the impact of FY2018 appropriations by continuing resolution on GMV, LRV, and MPF. 

 

 

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Date: 
09/26/2017
Defense Products & Services Sectors: 
Exhibitions & Conferences: 
Sources of Information: 

Congressional Research Service

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