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AUSA 2021: Contenders showcase OMFV solutions

13th October 2021 - 12:00 GMT | by Flavia Camargos Pereira in Washington DC

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At the AUSA 2021 exhibition, American Rheinmetall Vehicles put on display a large-scale model of its Lynx OMFV Digital Design Concept. (Photo: Flavia Camargos Pereira)

Manufacturers competing in the concept design phase of the OMFV programme have been working on open architecture and sustainable platforms that can be remotely controlled and will provide protection and lethality.

A few months after the US Army’s Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) programme to replace the Bradley Fighting Vehicle reached the concept design phase, defence companies showcased solutions for the programme at the AUSA 2021 exhibition in Washington DC.

The five manufacturers competing in the programme have been working on sustainable platforms that can be remotely controlled and will provide protection and lethality as well as an open architecture design that will allow future improvements.

American Rheinmetall Vehicles put on display a large-scale model of its Lynx OMFV Digital Design Concept as well as an interactive display that walks the user through the design. It uses the Lynx KF41 as its baseline.

Mike Milner, director of business development and strategy for the company, noted that the American Rheinmetall design comprises a new turret that will be designed and manufactured in the US and will feature ‘incredible capabilities in terms of its direct firepower and lethality’.

In his opinion, the main advantages of the Lynx are its ‘incredible amount of electrical power generation’ and the fact that the KF41 was already built upon a Modular Open System Approach (MOSA) architecture and was fielded that way.

‘Team Lynx’ also includes Raytheon, Technologies, L3 Harris Technologies, Textron Systems and Allison Transmission.

BAE Systems unveiled its technology demonstrator platform, which also uses MOSA and is intended to deliver automation, active protection and transformational combat vehicle technologies in addition to high manoeuvrability.

Jim Miller, director of business development of the manufacturer, explained that the company is working on a new platform design project which ‘is not really achievable by modifying an existing vehicle’.

‘We engaged our engineers and ask them to think of out of the box,’ he noted. BAE Systems is teamed with Elbit Systems in its OMFV proposal.

General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) put on display the Katalyst Next Generation Electronic Architecture, which features scalable and modular hardware and software to improve warfighter effectiveness.

GDLS intends to use an open architecture allied to innovative digital engineering approaches in its project in order to provide a platform that will transform all aspects of the IFV’s mission and value chain.

Ray Kiernan, OMFV programme director at GDLS, highlighted that AI ‘is utilised throughout the platform’ in order to reduce cognitive burdens on the crew through features such as autonomous driving and targeting.

He added that the GDLS concept aligns with the US Army vision for an optionally crewed vehicle. As Kiernan pointed out, the MOSA establishes ‘the interfaces necessary to interact with off-board robotic systems to increase platform effectiveness through Manned-Unmanned Teaming’.

Oshkosh displayed its OMFV design for the first time. (Photo: Flavia Camargos Pereira)

Oshkosh unmasked its OMFV vision for the first time at AUSA but no company representatives were available to comment when asked by Shephard.

The US manufacturer is teamed with South Korea-based Hanwha Defense as well as Pratt Miller, Rafael, QinetiQ and Plasan. Its concept incorporates the Hanwha Redback chassis and Rafael Samson turret technology.

Point Blank Enterprises (PBE) is cooperating with Keshik Mobile Power Systems and other companies. They are offering the LIBERTY platform, that will accommodate evolving lethality, threat, power, information and physical architectures.

Paul Palmer, SVP for advanced technology programmes at PBE, stressed that this vehicle will leverage mobility and agility ‘through a distributed redundant hybrid electric drive train, best-in-class survivability, unprecedented exportable electric power and system-wide MOSA.

He explained that LIBERTY is a non-traditional platform as well as its manufacturing, training, sustainment and upgrade methodologies. 

‘The LIBERTY concept realises the army’s desire for forwarding operations,’ Palmer claimed, adding that it will facilitate the integration of a wide range of ever-changing technologies.

In addition to the companies in the concept design phase, Thales is also working on its Wireless Ethernet Backbone Security Network concept for integration with OMFV.

Erick Balascik, business development director for sensors and missile systems at Thales, highlighted that the company won one of the subsystem development contracts and has 12 months to complete a study.

Balascik explained that the ability to wirelessly connect will play a relevant role as new vehicles will have to ‘process a tremendous amount of data quickly'.

NameRedbackLynxGriffin III
ManufacturerHanwha Defense

Rheinmetall/RaytheonGeneral Dynamics Land Systems
Weight43t48.5t40t
Crew

3

32 (option for 3)
Dismounts6-88-95-6
Armament30mm cannon, 7.62mm coaxial machine gun, 12.7mm RWS, 2 x Spike ATGM launcher

30mm/50mm cannon, 12.7mm RWS, 2 x ATGM launcher50mm cannon with autoloader (-12 to +85 degrees), 12.7mm RWS, 9 x Switchblade loitering munitions from turret launcher

Active Protection2 x Iron Fist launchers with turret radarsOptional2 x Iron Fist launchers with turret radars

Other features for OMFVMobile demonstrator with 'rubber band' tracks, 360-degree cameras, bolt-on armour, 8 x smoke grenade launchers, possible laser warning systemOptional Coyote UAS with 'drone swarm' AI software; two crewmen in hull, linked tracks, optional remote turret, CITV, LED lights

360-degree cameras, linked tracks, 8 x smoke grenade launchers, air-transportable in C-17

Source: Individual manufacturers, Shephard Defence Insight

Specifications for the BAE Systems and PBE designs remain shrouded in some mystery, but there is sufficient open-source information available about the other proposals to make some comparisons (see table above).

The concepts on display at AUSA 2021 suggest that progress is being made on OMFV but what are its prospects, given the multiple false starts in the past?

Mark Cancian, a senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (a Washington DC-based think tank), told Shephard: ‘There will be a lot of pressure for money for US Army’s LRPF strike, air and missile defence, and network [programmes]. The Bradley replacement will be later with no date set.  They’ll continue work but they will keep running into this problem about [funding] resources and strategy.’

Additional reporting by Peter Ong, California. Video by Noemi Distefano.

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