The OMFV Program

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. The US Army is looking to replace it’s Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles with…

Okay, yeah. We’ve been down this road a few times. And we at the Soapbox are super skeptical. But let’s look at this “Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle” anyway.

Obviously, it’s supposed to do double duty as a UGV. Not really a surprise there. We do have some ground drone kits, so that might work out okay.

It’s also supposed to be “better” than the Bradley in terms of protection, dash speed, and lethality. Unsurprising. Better can be kind of an annoying word though, because it make you vulnerable to the sort of Lucy-with-the-football stuff we’ve seen before.

Hopefully continuing the trend of this program having some restrictions in it to help it actually go somewhere, the Army is keenly interested in buying something that’s a derivative of someone else’s already-in-service vehicle.

We also see that they’re looking to fit a pair of the new OMFVs in a C-17, giving a maximum weight of about 38.75 tonnes. Or can be stripped down to that weight. Again, this is pretty reasonable given the capacity they want, which we’ll get to in a minute.

The fun begins when we look at the manning numbers. The US Army is specifically requesting a crew of 2 and capacity for 5 dismounts. Let’s look at those in turn.

A crew of two means some faith in your sensors and computer systems for observation and fire control. In practice, this means distributing the gunner’s work between the computers, the driver, and the commander. There have been tests of two-man armored fighting vehicle crews in Germany, the United States, and Israel going back to the 90s. The conclusion has been that it works if you had quality situational awareness aids (i.e. electronic sensors with some computer systems for ‘sensor fusion’), and faith that those aids would actually work. The Israelis have been working on a next gen combat vehicle called the Camel, which also has a crew of two. So it’s very possible, but it requires some forward thinking. Big Army is not usually fond of being forward thinking, so good on them.

Five dismounts is a bit more than half of the old GCV’s goals. It’s nice to see the Army realizing what gave them so much trouble last time and trying something else. Five dismounts reduces the size of the armored volume. It also is smaller than the standard six-man dismount capability that seems to be the common standard. The army is not changing the number of dismounts per platoon though; they’re planning to have six OMFVs in each platoon.

I’m coming around to the idea of smaller, well-protected vehicles with fewer dismounts. I’m a little skeptical of a platoon of six vehicles with thirty dismounts though. That seems a lot for one platoon commander (probably some Lt.) to manage. Maybe modern technology makes it easier. Maybe they plan to give platoon command to some other rank. Or maybe they know something I don’t.

2 thoughts on “The OMFV Program

  1. Kilo Sierra

    Hypothetical: If the system can be optionally manned, why not: Commander and Gunner. I presume both within the hull. Either station would be able to direct drive if needed (via touch screen or something similar).

    Manning: If (big if) big Army keeps tech flowing down to the platoon level, we’ll rapidly find the C2 ability of Lt Snuffy overwhelmed (if it isn’t already). Based on my interactions with Army folks we’ve already seen this with 2LTs being execs to the senior 1LT or junior CPT who is the PTL.

    Plus, if tech is getting pushed down to the platoon – does that imply that dismounts would have all the stuff they need to consume said info? Or would that stay hard-mounted on the tracks? If the latter, would you then need someone to stick around and watch the screen? Perhaps the room for 5 is really 4+the chat monkey/radios/ISR etc…

    1. parvusimperator Post author

      As I understand it the reconfigurable stations allow driving from either. I’m really not sure how best to title the two positions; I think I said commander/driver above because of all the nifty autotracking stuff out there to help automate gunner duties. The reconfigurable stations let people shuffle hats nicely either way. And yes, both are in the hull. Huzzah for unmanned turrets.

      Yeah, that’s a big if. Senior 1LT or junior CPT is a nice improvement though. Really, anything to get a green-as-grass 2LT some experience before he’s commanding things. I hadn’t heard that one, so thanks.

      Well, yes and no. 30 total gives seats for the 27 soldiers in the rifle platoon, plus space for attachments like medic/radio dude/whatever. As for pushing the tech down, sort of? There’s some cool new stuff on the vehicles themselves, but anything to push tech to infantry is a separate program. Land Warrior 2.0?

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