Armor & Mobility

MAR-APR 2018

Military magazines in the United States and Canada, covering Armor and Mobility, focuses on tactical vehicles, C4ISR, Special Operations Forces, latest soldier equipment, shelters, and key DoD programs

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Last October, SAIC announced it will compete to develop combat tactical vehicle prototypes for the U.S. Army's Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) program. The Army has outlined an aggressive acquisition strategy for the MPF and plans on rapidly fielding two sets of prototypes to soldiers at Fort Benning. In order to meet that schedule, the Army has asked all of industry to come forward with what's available now in terms of existing combat vehicle technology. In response, SAIC's MPF solution marries ST Kinetics' Next Generation Armored Fighting Vehicle (NGAFV) chassis and CMI Defence's Cockerill Series 3105 turret. Both are mature, currently in production, and can be fielded quickly. In a recent Q&A with SAIC's Jim Scanlon, senior vice president and general manager of SAIC's Defense Systems Customer Group, he outlined the company's vehicle strategy and how they plan on offering the best MPF solution while still meeting the Army's tight deadline. A&M: Traditionally, SAIC is a services company. Why is SAIC entering into this new area of business? How will the company compete against the original equipment manufacturers? Mr. Scanlon: This is certainly not a new area for SAIC. We have an established reputation as a great technical services provider, but we also have an outstanding pedigree and significant experience integrating vehicles and customizing them to meet Army requirements, and most recently, U.S. Marine Corps requirements. We've had a substantial amount of vehicle integration work and relevant past performance for more than 20 years. SAIC's major platform journey accelerated with the integration of communications equipment on thousands of High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV) and then the integration of tens of thousands of Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles for the Department of Defense. Now, most recently, SAIC is helping the Marine Corps to modernize their Amphibious Assault Vehicle and build the new Amphibious Combat Vehicles – two Marine Corps programs that SAIC is currently prime on. As a leading technology integrator, SAIC offers the ability to find the best technologies and innovations available for every individual program. We're not limited to solutions that we've developed ourselves. We are a conduit for innovation and technology, particularly in the combat vehicle space - anywhere in the world. We work with a wide variety of global partners in this market across many programs to ensure that we meet our customers' requirements with the best solutions that we can deliver. We understand the Army's MPF emphasis on speed and schedule, and we certainly are poised to address that in the way that we're structuring our approach to this critical program. The SAIC approach is really in many ways technology-agnostic but focused on Army requirements first. This is in SAIC's DNA and we are looking forward to working with the Army on this next program, the MPF. A&M: On the programs you mentioned, I'm sure that SAIC has encountered challenges. How has SAIC navigated these challenges? Mr. Scanlon: All programs that develop, modernize, and provide new capabilities to the warfighter are bound to have challenges. That's an expected and normal part of every engineering and manufacturing development phase. More important, is how SAIC attacks those challenges, leveraging our strong program management, engineering and systems integration capabilities to meet our customers' requirements. We are also offering a new approach to acquisition programs in the Department of Defense. DOD is really challenging industry to deliver on very short schedules within very tight budgetary constraints. It's a new paradigm. They are also emphasizing use of rapidly developed or rapidly fielded technologies – not technology that will be mature many years down the road. As a services provider and technology integrator, SAIC can effectively navigate these very challenging constraints. A&M: The Army has laid out an aggressive timeline. How will SAIC approach this? Mr. Scanlon: The premise behind the MPF acquisition strategy is that the Army wants to very rapidly field two sets of prototype vehicles. They want something that can be fielded very quickly, that's mature, and production-ready. SAIC is best positioned to meet that challenge because we are leveraging strong, industry-leading partners to provide key components of our MPF design. We are aligned with Singapore Technologies Kinetics to use their chassis and CMI Defence's turret, both of which are currently being produced on hot production lines. The advantage there is twofold. First, because the chassis and turret are in production, we can transition to field to the Army very quickly, given the accelerated schedule requirement. Second, because these major components are modern and new, SAIC's offering is not something that's obsolete or a blast from the past. It's a very modern, digitized, capable platform for the 21st Century soldier, such that the Army can field it and continue to upgrade it over time once it's fully fielded. A&M: Why does the Army need this vehicle? What is the problem it's going to solve? Mr. Scanlon: As the Army looks ahead to where threats are evolving and how it will fight in 21st Century combat environments, they see that they need a capability to move infantry forces very quickly to the front of the fight, potentially in urban settings. Our forces have to be able to engage with an enemy that may have tanks and other significant threats. In order to rapidly move our infantry forces, the Army is seeking the ability to provide an armored vehicle that has enough lethality to be able to engage the enemy and to move our infantry units to the front of the fight. That's where the mobile protected firepower requirement came in. It's something the Army has looked at and studied for the past couple of years. As they see the dynamics of how our soldiers will fight in those urban environments of the future, they determined that ADVANCING DYNAMIC COMBAT CAPABILITY Jim Scanlon Senior Vice President and General Manager of SAIC MOBILE PROTECTED FIREPOWER 30 | Armor & Mobility | March/April 2018

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