Concept photo

Concept photo American Rheinmetall

Rheinmetall, Partners Detail Armored Fighting Vehicle It’s Pitching to Replace Army’s Bradley

Executives touted each company’s unique technology and expertise as their special sauce.

A newly designed 50-millimeter gun turret, a special launcher that can fire anti-tank weapons, a new hybrid transmission, cutting-edge sensor, and agile software that can tie everything together.

Those are just some of the unique features of the armored vehicle that American Rheinmetall is pitching to the Army to replace the Bradley, a tracked combat vehicle that has been in the inventory for four decades. Executives from Rheinmetall and other companies on its team shared some details of their proposal with Defense One last week in advance of the Association of the U.S. Army annual meeting in Washington this week. While it’s rare for companies to give details of a proposal before bids are due, the team intends to show off some of the technology in its proposal during AUSA.

“We want to show the Army customer 1. How committed we are, 2. How confident they can be in this program, that they're going to get what they want in the transformational platform, and 3. That we’re differentiated,” said Stephen Hedger, CEO of American Rheinmetall Defense.

Rheinmetall and its five partner companies, who go by “Team Lynx,” are looking to disrupt the U.S. armored vehicle market that has been largely dominated by General Dynamics Land Systems and BAE Systems. They argue that by winning the Bradley replacement, which the Army calls the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle, or OMFV, it would inject more competition, which, in turn, would lead to better technology for soldiers.

“You're going to get advances in technology and you're going to get additional capacity in terms of the industrial base,” said Matt Warnick, managing director of American Rheinmetall Defense. “Ultimately, and most importantly, I think the competition brings a better capability set to the soldier.”

Even though the Army isn’t expected to choose a winner until 2027, an estimated $45 billion price tag and two decades of production serves as a strong motivation. Collectively, Team Lynx has invested tens of millions of dollars to design and develop its technology, executives said.

In July 2021, the Army awarded contracts to five companies for digital designs of their proposals: General Dynamics Land Systems, BAE Systems, Oshkosh Defense, American Rheinmetall, and Point Blank Enterprises. General Dynamics has partnered with GM Defense, AeroVironment, and Applied Intuition; BAE Systems has partnered with Elbit Systems of America.

Bids for the next phase of the bidding process are due Nov. 1. The Army is expected to choose up to three companies to build prototypes of their fighting vehicles, which will be extensively tested. The service is not expected to choose a winner until 2027. The entire contract for thousands of the vehicles is estimated to be worth $45 billion.

The new OMFV will have two crewmembers, one fewer than the Bradley, and could even operate without a crew. It will also be able to transport up to six soldiers

The armored vehicle will be “tasked to maneuver through the enemy’s security zone as part of a combined arms team for the purpose of creating an advantageous position, relative to the enemy, and providing protection and direct fire lethality while manned or remotely operated,” according to the Congressional Research Service. “In the close fight, the OMFV enables the ability of dismounted elements to maneuver by detecting and destroying targets at a range beyond the enemy’s capability.”

It’s the third time the Army is trying to replace Bradley—two prior efforts were canceled. During the last attempt in 2019, Germany-based Rheinmetall, which at the time was only teamed with Raytheon, was unable to transport a Lynx vehicle from Germany to the United States due to bureaucratic hurdles. The Army disqualified the company’s bid. The service canceled an earlier attempt, in 2020, after it received a sole bid from General Dynamics.

The extra time gave Rheinmetall time to build a more robust team and make investments in its U.S. facilities. In July, the company announced it would open a 46,000-square-foot prototyping factory in Sterling Heights, Michigan, creating between 125 and 150 new jobs over the next three years.

The team is putting forward a heavily modified version of the Lynx fighting vehicle, developed in Germany in the middle of the last decade. Called Lynx OMFV, there are “significant modifications to the chassis” and other parts of the vehicle, Warnick said. The gun turret of the version being pitched to the U.S. Army was designed by Rheinmetall engineers in Michigan. In recent weeks, the company has test fired the 50-millimeter gun in the new turret for the Army, Warnick said. 

“This is a true independent offering from an OMFV perspective, but we get to leverage a lot of that work that we've done previously, both from a testing and validation perspective to pull that risk, but also from a … material selection, sub-system selection, from a cost perspective as well,” he said.

Executives touted each company’s unique technology and expertise as their special sauce.

Raytheon, which teamed with Rheinmetall during the last competition, is still part of the team and is working on “supporting the lethality integration piece of the program,” said Brad Barnard, executive director of precision fires and maneuver at Raytheon Missiles & Defense. The company is developing a “multi-mission launcher” that allows it to fire Javelin and TOW anti-tank weapons and Coyote drones.

“This multi-mission launcher capability that will enable Lynx ... is truly unique across the market and brings a tactical flexibility to the warfighter that doesn't exist today,” Barnard said.

Allison Transmission is building an electric hybrid cross-drive transmission, the first time the propulsion technology, which the company calls eGen Force, has been used in a tracked Army vehicle, said Dana Pittard, the vice president of defense programs.

“It's our largest defense investment in the company's 107-year history,” he said.

The power distribution technology will allow the vehicle to operate silently and not give off a heat signature, Pittard said. It will also allow the vehicle to power future weapons, Warnick said.

L3Harris Technologies is providing electronics that connect all of the vehicle’s sensors and targeting equipment to reduce the crew workload, said David Zack, president of the company’s Mission Avionics business. The company mission management system will enable artificial intelligence and machine learning that will be used when there is no crew inside. 

“For us it really intersects in improving the overall situational awareness and reducing the crew workload,” Zack said.

Anduril will use its software to “build the back end does, not just sensor correlation but actual fusion, to represent those time-sensitive, tactical targets of interest and then be able to elevate to a commander … how to prioritize the types of effects they can generate against those targets,” said Zach Mears, Anduril’s head of strategy and growth.

The vehicles will be assembled and delivered to the Army from a Textron Systems factory in Slidell, Louisiana, where the company has built more than 10,000 vehicles for the U.S. military and its allies. Textron Systems will build the chassis and the turret structures, said David Phillips, senior vice president of the company's Land and Sea Systems businesses.

“We bring a facility capable of executing a [large military acquisition] program and a wealth of experience in transitioning from development prototype into full-rate production,” Phillips said.

The team’s activities span16 states and will create hundreds of jobs just to build 11 prototypes for the Army, executives said. 

“There's a unique commitment to transformational product delivery and technology for the Army in this program,” Hedger said. “Some people have questioned [if this is] going to be an iterative step in fighting vehicles? And this team came together because they wanted to prove a transformational platform could be delivered on day one.”