The M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle is one of the most emblematic of the United States Army. In production since 1981, is known for its firepower and high maneuverability and has had several versions since then. However, four decades is a long time for any vehicle, and now the United States is considering replacing it with a new infantry fighting vehicle that will, in all likelihood, be a hybrid, which could make it a the first combat vehicle of its kind.

Given the difficulties of vehicles with electric motors to win over the consumer, beyond the laws that push their adoption step by step, it may be surprising that the US Army considers the use of this type of motor on the battlefield. However, it has good reasons for it. A military vehicle equipped with an electric or hybrid engine runs more silently and emits less heat than a combustion engine, which helps to hide them from the sensors of satellites, aircraft and missiles.

Stephen DuMont, president of GM Defense, the military products subsidiary of General Motors, has told Defense One that a hybrid combat vehicle “has a really low IR signature. There is no hot engine. There is no hot exhaust pipe. There is no hot hood. Those are the things that tend to give you contrast when you’re aiming,” says the former Apache helicopter pilot with experience detecting targets using infrared.

On the battlefield, the advantages offered by an electric or hybrid engine are undeniable, which is why the United States Army has a climate plan that contemplates the progressive adoption of vehicles with first hybrid engines and later only electric although for the latter the fixed date, still distant, is 2050. A hybrid engine can offer the best of both worlds, electric and combustion, but the electric-only engine has it much more difficult. Obviously, soldiers in a military operation cannot sit around waiting several hours for the vehicle to recharge its battery and be operational again. The deployment of hybrid vehicles is planned, in accordance with the climate plan, for 2035.

For the time being, it is the M2 Bradley that will be replaced by a new hybrid infantry fighting vehicle. In 2019, the US Army opened a call to replace the M2 Bradley, but only received a proposal from the GDSL by the established deadline. He decided to reformulate the call and designed a five-phase plan for this contract.

The first phase is the one that is now underway and open to receiving initial designs. Five companies are participating and they all propose hybrid vehicles. companies are Point Blank Enterprises, Oshkosh Defense, BAE Systems, General Dynamics Land Systems y American Rheinmetall Vehicles.

In the next phase, which ends with fiscal year 2024, detailed designs will be proposed from which three of those submitted by the contractors will be chosen. For fiscal year 2025, the prototyping phase will begin, in 2027 the chosen company will begin manufacturing the first vehicles and by fiscal year 2030 the final design should be in full production.

Gen. Glenn Dean, executive officer for the Ground Combat Systems program, told Defense One that “this is a important change for us. Each company has taken a different approach on how to achieve the electric hybrid. So it’s really exciting that we have a wide range of risk-based approaches.”

Although all the proposals are with hybrid engines, this it is not a requirement established by the Army. “What we have specified for the requirements revolves around things like fuel efficiency, silent monitoring, and other operational requirements for the vehicle that actually lend themselves to a hybrid electric solution Gen. Geoff Norman, director of the Army’s Next-Generation Combat Vehicles Cross-Functional Team, explained to the outlet.

The Army has specified that it needs reduce logistics footprint of the vehicle and capabilities of silent surveillance and mobility to avoid detection on the enemy battlefield. The M2 Bradley replacement will weigh between 40 and 50 tons and must include at least one 30mm cannon although the goal is for it to be 50 mm as well as anti tank guided missiles and machine guns. As Gen. Glenn Dean explained to Defense News, it will need to accommodate two pilots and six infantrymen and use a modular architecture that allows for quick upgrades. The goal of adopting hybrid vehicles is to achieve greater survival increase the lethality and have more energy in the vehicle for possible incorporation of high energy laser systems.

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