Monday, U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) announced that the U.S. Army has selected the Anniston Army Depot as the de-processing site for the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) program.
“The Army’s decision to select Anniston Army Depot to serve as the de-processing site for the AMPV program is excellent news for the Depot and the entire Anniston area,” said Senator Shelby. “This project will have a positive impact on the Depot, creating jobs and bringing additional work. I look forward to the implementation of this program and the economic growth it will bring to Anniston.”
Prior to fielding combat vehicles for the first time, the Army has to de-process it after it leaves the factory. The de-processing site completes any required software and hardware updates; conducts a road test; consolidates technical manuals, includes necessary spare parts, tests the equipment; and stages the vehicles for final shipment to the unit that it is assigned to.
In early 2019, the project manager for Mounted Armored Vehicles (PM MAV) evaluated potential de-processing locations, including Army National Guard and multiple U.S. Army installations where Program Executive Office (PEO) Ground Combat Systems already had an established Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT) footprint. Following all of the necessary evaluations, the Anniston Army Depot was selected based on the Depot’s demonstration of overall lower execution risk and a better ability to adapt to changing Army requirements than the other sites. Approximately 30 jobs are expected to be created at the Depot over the next 18 months to run the de-processing facility and support this effort, which will last anywhere between 10 to 15 years.
The AMPV provides significant improvement in ballistic protection and is on-track for closing operational gaps the Army sees in force protection. The vehicle has proven through operational and developmental testing to be more effective and survivable than the thousands of Vietnam era M113 armored personnel carriers that it is replacing.
The M113 is an armored tracked vehicle built by the Food Machinery Corporation (FMC) beginning in 1960. FMC had also built the heavier M59s and M75 APC built in the 1950s that it replaced. The aluminum M113 weighs 12.1 tons and is crewed by two and can carry 11 passengers. Nearly half of the Army’s armored combat vehicles are the aging M113s. The M113 has been extensively modified due to lessons learned early in its deployments in Vietnam by both U.S. and ARVN (South Vietnam) forces. Over 80 countries have used the venerable M113 and it has seen extensive service in the Middle East. The U.S. military has long replaced it in frontline combat roles with the M2 and M3 Bradley Combat Vehicles, though M113s are still widely deployed in support roles. In the Iraq War, M113s were proven to be very vulnerable in urban combat and were widely replaced in combat use by Mine Resistant Ambush Protection vehicles (MRAPs). The MRAP, while well suited for Iraq, however has a smaller payload and poor on the road performance. The M113 is also widely used by law enforcement. A Midland County Sheriff’s Department M113 played an infamous role in the final assault on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas in 2008.
The Army stopped purchasing new M113s in 2007, planning to replace them with the BCT Ground Combat Vehicle in 2018, however that program was cancelled and the decision was made to purchase the much cheaper AMPVs. The current plan is to purchase 2,897 AMPVs. The M113 however will continue to soldier on in frontline armored units through the 2028 as the Army is only purchasing 180 AMPVs per year. The M113 will remain in rear echelon and support roles and is not scheduled to be phased out until well after 2030.
The AMPV is built by BAE Systems that also builds the Bradley Fighting Vehicles. Each AMPV costs $3.7 million. The total contract is worth $10.723 billion, but is over $26 billion cheaper than the BCT Ground Combat Vehicle would have been.
Richard Shelby is the Chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations committee.
(Wikipedia was consulted in the writing of this article.)