BAE Systems is currently suspended from the competition due to compliance issues. The company delivered its latest M8-based ''light tank'' prototype to the US Army in early February, a year and a half later than expected, two industry sources familiar with the program confirmed to Janes.
The decision leaves General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) as the only competitor still vying for the Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) contract. Neither the army, BAE Systems, nor GDLS wanted to discuss the state of the MPF programme, all citing the ongoing competition.
“The army cannot comment on the status of individual proposals at this time,” said Ashley John, the Public Affairs Director for the army's Program Executive Office for Ground Combat Systems. She noted that the source selection process is still ongoing, and that the army anticipates making a final production selection in mid-2022 and will reach the first unit equipped milestone in 2025.
According to the US Department of Defense, the American army lacks light and mobile tanks that could accompany infantry in difficult terrain and in urban combat, where the M1 Abrams tank would be too clumsy. That is why the Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) program was launched. Its result should be a new light tank capable of destroying enemy vehicles (including modern tanks), fortifications (concrete pillboxes and other permanent structures) and providing fire support for infantry.
In 1996, the US Department of Defense abandoned the development and purchase of the M8 Armored Gun System tank due to funding cuts. After that, the military department once again tried to purchase light tanks for the army, but in 2009 the Future Combat System program was closed.