Heavy Competition For Light Tank: SAIC & Singapore Vs. BAE, GDLS

Breaking Defense | 10/6/2017 | Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.
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If the stars align for defense contractor SAIC, the US Army and Marine Corps will soon be buying hundreds of armored vehicles designed in Singapore.

Yesterday, six months after joining forces for the first time on the Marines’ Amphibious Combat Vehicle competition – and just four days before the massive Association of the US Army conference opens in DC – Virginia-based SAIC and Singapore Technologies Kinetics officially announced they are teaming up again for the Army’s Mobile Protected Firepower program, a light tank to support light infantry in places where the massive M1 Abrams cannot go.

SAIC - Team-up - STK - SAIC - Defense

SAIC didn’t go in planning another team-up with STK, SAIC Defense Systems general manager Jim Scanlon told me. “We talked to a lot of different folks… around the globe, visited them and so forth,” Scanlon said. “It wasn’t preconceived going in” that they’d partner with the Singaporeans again, but “for the vehicle chassis, what STK was doing was the best.” SAIC plans to offer the chassis of Singapore’s brand-new Next Generation Armored Fighting Vehicle (NGAFV) with a Cockerill 3105 turret from Belgium’s CMI. Working closely together, Scanlon said, the team is “a viable alternative… to the more traditional GD and BAE.”

That makes two contracts now where the upstart SAIC-STK team is going head to head with defense giant BAE Systems. BAE makes the Army’s M2 Bradley, AMPV utility vehicle, and M109 Paladin howitzer. BAE also won the Army’s previous, cancelled program for a light tank: The M8 Buford Armored Gun System (AGS), which BAE is updating for MPF with new electronics, a new engine, and improved protection.

Rivals - Tanks - Timeline - BAE - Benefits

Unlike its rivals, who must come up with new tanks on a tight timeline, BAE’s benefits from years of painstaking, bespoke optimization for this exact role. “The requirement that was established in the ’90s really hasn’t significantly changed,” BAE’s VP...
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