There is irony in the fact that countries around the world spend sizable fortunes on something they hope to never need or use: military equipment that is state of the art. America, for example, ensures its army is equipped with the very best array of fighting gear, and yet the aim of every politician and military official is that it will sit gathering dust in a warehouse somewhere, and never be pressed into service.
One item in that array of equipment has been Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicles (OMFV).
The M2 Bradley tanks have been used since the 1980s, in conflicts ranging from the 1991 Gulf War to the 2014 fight against the Islamic State. But the M2s are not the state of the art vehicles they used to be, and the U.S. Army is looking to replace them, perhaps with the KF41 Lynx, a new model that is made with both American and German defence contractors’ technology.
The Cologne-based company, Rheinmetall, is working with its American subsidiary based in Michigan and Textron Systems in Louisiana to pitch the product to the American military, after an attempt to do so last year stalled. This year, the companies say, Textron will will take the lead in trying to convince army officials that the KF41 Lynx is the right choice for the U.S. Army in the 21st century.
Matt Warnick, managing director at American Rheinmetall, said in a press release issued in late October, “the teaming agreement brings together two of the world’s leading providers of defence industry solutions.” He expressed hope that, when the U.S. military makes its choice later this year or in early 2021, that the KF41 Lynx will be the competition winner.
The vehicle is not dissimilar to the M2s, but all its features are better, and more technologically advanced. However, it has one feature the M2 did not – it can get onto any battlefield by remote control, a huge plus in modern warfare. Furthermore, it operates at a greater speed, can hold a number of more troops and even carries more equipment – all important features of any vehicle put into active combat.
It is a tracked vehicle that requires a three-person crew to operate, and it can carry as many as eight additional soldiers. Another important aspect of its advanced design is that is can fight at longer distances, perhaps making it a somewhat safer vehicle for the crew inside. Each vehicle will weigh approximately 44 tons, once made.
A prototype of the KF41 Lynx is currently in Hungary, where it recently won awards for its innovative design.
As the U.S. Army weighs its options, officials have agreed to allow all companies time to redesign their submissions to meet whatever features – such as the machine guns and turrets – the Americans decide they want their OMFVs to have. When the competition stopped last year, some companies expressed concern that they had not been given enough time to modify their OMFV designs, so the Army heard those concerns and adjusted its requirements.
If the Americans choose the Lynx when they finally settle on a replacement for the Bradley M2 tanks that have served the country so well, it is yet another piece of equipment everyone hopes will never be needed on an actual battlefield. But in reality, the world doesn’t work that way, and sometimes the presence of OMFVs is needed, just on patrol in unstable areas if not in actual conflicts.
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Perhaps building a vehicle like this is one way of helping to ensure lasting, if uneasy, global peace.