Armored Systems Modernization

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The ASM Program was a U.S. Army combat vehicle procurement program from the mid-1980s to the 1990s.

History[edit]

The ASM program began in the mid-1980s, when the Army planned to simultaneously develop, produce, and field 24 new combat vehicles, including tanks, self-propelled artillery, infantry fighting vehicles, and other armored systems, under what was called the "Armored Family of Vehicles Program". The Army planned to base its armored modernization approach on a family of vehicles with a common chassis and common modular components. Army studies showed that using a common chassis and common components could reduce future operational and support costs. However, the Army's effort was dramatically scaled back because of the high costs involved in developing and producing so many different systems. In March 1985, the Army downsized the program to its six highest priority vehicles: four to be built on a heavy common chassis (weighing 55 to 62 tons) and two on a medium chassis (weighing up to 36 tons). The downsized program was renamed the "Heavy Force Modernization Program".

In February 1990, the Army added a light, direct-fire weapon-the Armored Gun System-and renamed the program the "ASM Program." In response to funding shortfall estimates beyond fiscal year 1997, the Defense Acquisition Board reviewed the Army's ASM program and directed that the Army develop a more realistic acquisition program. The Army's response to the Board was that the ASM program's affordability was on track. The Army added a prototype phase to each of the vehicles at the direction of the Board in August 1990. The Board wanted the prototype phase to minimize integration risks brought about by the separate development of the common chassis and individual weapon components.

Heavy Chassis[edit]

Army conception of Heavy Chassis variants

The Army developed the heavy chassis using a two-pronged development strategy: an in-house Army component development and test program and a competitive contractor development phase.

The four systems to be built on a common heavy chassis were the Block III tank, a main battle tank; the Combat Mobility Vehicle, an engineering vehicle for mine clearance and other engineering tasks; the Advanced Field Artillery System, a self-propelled howitzer; and the Future Infantry Fighting Vehicle, an infantry fighting vehicle. The chassis will have certain common elements such as engines, transmissions, suspensions, modular armor, and tracks. The ASM common heavy chassis could have actually been two chassis, one with the engine in the rear and one with the engine in the front because tanks traditionally have had the engine in the rear, while self-propelled artillery and infantry fighting vehicles have had the engine in the front. However, the chassis were required to be sufficiently similar to permit production on a single assembly line.

The Army's initial development priority was the Block III M1 Abrams, with the other heavy chassis systems to follow.

The Army planned for each of the three remaining heavy chassis systems to go through a technology demonstrator phase prior to the start of prototype development. The award of the demonstrator contracts was scheduled for the Combat Mobility Vehicle and for the Advanced Field Artillery System in fiscal year 1991 and for the Future Infantry Fighting Vehicle in fiscal year 1993. The demonstrator for the Combat Mobility Vehicle would integrate obstacle-breaching components on a surrogate tank chassis. The demonstrator for the Advanced Field Artillery System would integrate a new artillery cannon and fire control system on a surrogate chassis. The demonstrator for the Future Infantry Fighting Vehicle would integrate a new cannon and fire control system on a modified existing chassis.

The Army planned to award prototype development contracts for the other three vehicles in 1994. The prototypes would integrate each system's unique weapons on the common heavy chassis. The full-scale development phase would begin in 1998 for the Advanced Field Artillery System and the Combat Mobility Vehicle and in 1997 for the Future Infantry Fighting Vehicle. Vehicle production was scheduled to begin in 2001 for the Advanced Field Artillery System and Future Infantry Fighting Vehicle and in 2002 for the Combat Mobility Vehicle. The scheduled first-unit-equipped dates were 2003 for the Advanced Field Artillery System and 2004 for the remaining two vehicles.

Block III tank[edit]

The Army's initial development priority was the Block III M1 Abrams, with the other heavy chassis systems to follow.

In fiscal year 1990, the Army began work on the in-house phase when it began to develop a "test bed", a modified M1 Abrams chassis that was used to test components for the common heavy chassis, such as the engine, transmission, and suspension, and for the Block III tank's weapon system, including the fire control, new gun, and autoloader. This effort was scheduled to continue through fiscal year 1993.

In December 1990, the Army awarded contracts to Teledyne Continental Motors and to Armored Vehicle Technologies Associated (a joint venture of General Dynamics Land Systems and FMC Corporation) for the competitive design and development of a common heavy chassis. This effort is scheduled to continue through the first quarter of fiscal year 1994. The contractors could use either the Army developed or independently developed components.

After the chassis was developed, the Army planned to select one of the contractors to develop the tank. This selection was scheduled for fiscal year 1994, and the selected contractor was required to develop a prototype tank integrating the common heavy chassis with the tank weapons components.

The contractor was allowed to choose which weapons components to use. The prototype tank phase was scheduled to end in 1997, and full-scale tank development was scheduled to begin later that year. Block III tank production was scheduled to start in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2001, with the first unit equipped in the second quarter of 2003.

Medium Chassis[edit]

The ASM Program plans called for two systems to be built on a common medium chassis: the Line-of-Sight Antitank System, a vehicle carrying a high-speed, kinetic-energy anti-tank missile; and the Future Armored Resupply Vehicle-Ammunition, an artillery resupply vehicle. However, because the Army had not established a date for initiating the development of a medium chassis, these systems would initially be integrated on a modified Bradley Fighting Vehicle chassis.

The Army initiated development of the Line-of-Sight Antitank System prior to formulation of the ASM program and is proceeded with advanced development of the missile mounted on a surrogate chassis.

The Army tested the missile during 1990 and 1991. On December 5, 1990, the Defense Acquisition Board approved continued development of the missile. The Army planned to begin full-scale development of the system in early 1992, with production in 1997.

The Army planned to initiate advanced development of the Future Armored Resupply Vehicle-Ammunition in fiscal year 1991. The advanced development phase would demonstrate technologies for ammunition stowage and advanced material handling on a modified Bradley Fighting Vehicle chassis. The Army planned to begin the prototype development phase for the vehicle in 1994, with full-scale development to follow in 1997 and production in 2002. The Army struggled to find the needed funding for the vehicle before the end of fiscal year 1991.

See also[edit]

Future Combat Systems

References[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army.