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Selected Foreign Counterparts of U.S. Army Ground Combat Systems and Implications for Combat Operations and Modernization

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Technical Report

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Congressional Research Service Washington United States

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Many nations maintain armies whose ultimate responsibility is to defeat other nations combat formations on the battlefield. In order to accomplish this, nations indigenously develop, maintain, and improve a variety of ground combat systems or purchase them from other nations. Ground combat system development and improvement is informed by existing and emerging technologies and budgetary factors as well as observations from current land conflicts. As this process is also intended to address potential future battlefield threats, beliefs as to what the future combat operational environment will look like, as well as what future technologies might be available for military use, also influence a nations developmental efforts. The U.S. Armys current fleet of main battle tanks MBTs, tracked infantry fighting vehicles IFVs, tracked self-propelled SP artillery, and multiple launch rocket systems MLRS, which constitutes the nucleus of the Armys armored ground forces, were developed in the 1970s and fielded in the 1980s to counter the Soviet Unions and Warsaw Pacts numerically superior ground forces. The combat performance of these vehicles against Iraqi forces during Operation Desert Storm in 1991 reaffirmed for many the role these systems would play in future Army ground operations. U.S. Army leadership notes for the first time since World War I, that the Army does not have a new ground combat vehicle under development and at current funding levels, the Bradley and Abrams will remain in the inventory for 50 to 70 more years. Regarding armored vehicle development, the Army suggests our enemies, and even our friends and allies, have not remained static and, in fact, even our allies are modernizing to such an extent that they have outpaced us in some areas. This comment raises the possibility that in the not-too-distant future, foreign armored vehicle design and capabilities could surpass existing U.S. systems.

Subject Categories:

  • Combat Vehicles
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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