Dec. 18 (UPI) -- BAE Systems and General Dynamics have received contracts that total more than $700 million to produce 12 prototypes of the Mobile Protected Firepower vehicle.
The contracts, announced Tuesday by the Department of Defense, cover middle tier acquisition and rapid prototyping effort, with plans and options for initial production. The MPF will fall under a Rapid Prototyping contracting arrangement meant to lead to fast fielding, according to the Army.
The proposed vehicle will be similar to the AJAX vehicle currently being developed by the U.K., which General Dynamics has worked on, while BAE's prototypes will likely include the M8 Buford Armored Gun System it has developed with the Army.
Delivery on both MPF prototypes is expected to start sometime next year.
"By working closely with industry, they will be able to deliver this major improvement in lethality and maneuver support, embedded directly within our Infantry Brigade Combat Teams and ensuring continued combat over match at the lowest echelons of our formations," Bruce Jette, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology, said in an Army press release.
The MPF will be meant for bunker busting roles and combating light armor using a gun in the 105mm to 120mm range. The vehicle is meant to be easily air transportable in standard cargo aircraft like the C-17.
The vehicle would be similar to the current Stryker 105mm gun variant with the addition of tracks for better mobility in rough terrain.
For the two contracts -- BAE was awarded $375 million and General Dynamics received $335 million -- each company has been obligated about $175 million in fiscal 2018 and 2019 research, development, test and evaluation funds.
Both contracts run through October 2025, and the Army aims to start fielding it that year.
The Army plans to acquire 504 of the vehicles, with 14 assigned to each IBCT.