Force Dynamics, a joint venture between Force Protection and General Dynamics Land Systems has been awarded a contract for two Cheetah prototypes as part of the US Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) All Terrain Vehicle (M-ATV) program.
The value of the award is US$1 million.
The two vehicles were delivered on 23 February and met the government’s initial requirements, the JV says in a statement issued this week.
The Cheetah vehicle, which has been in development since late 2005, previously successfully passed testing to MRAP I survivability levels and has undergone initial mobility and durability testing at the Nevada Automotive Test Centre.
Damon Walsh, executive vice president for Force Protection and program director of Force Dynamics, commented, “Delivery of these first test vehicles and the subsequent sale to TACOM is an important milestone gate in the M-ATV competition.
“We have long believed that there was a need for a lightweight, highly mobile and highly survivable tactical wheeled vehicle to supplement the current fleet. We are proud, not only to have pioneered the MRAP category of vehicles with our Cougar MRAP, but to have foreseen – through the development of the Cheetah – the need to evolve the category with enhanced mobility to navigate the rugged terrain and wider variety of missions that characterize the conflict in Afghanistan.
“Our troops can’t afford to choose between mobility and survivability; they deserve both and the Cheetah was designed to meet this very requirement,” Walsh adds.
The Cheetah provides the same level of survivability as the Cougar at approximately half the curb weight.
The M-ATV Cheetah incorporates several improvements to the original FPI Cheetah, including independent suspension, additional interior capacity, and a significantly increased power-to-weight ratio. Cheetah is well positioned to meet the two most important criteria of the selection process: survivability and mobility.
The JV media release adds that the strong partnership between Force Protection and General Dynamics Land Systems as well as a strong suite of OEMs and partners “will allow Force Dynamics to successfully execute on the aggressive procurement schedule required to deliver this urgently needed survivability solution to the conflict in Afghanistan”.
“Together, Force Protection and General Dynamics have successfully delivered over 3000 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) Category I and Category II vehicles under the MRAP program.”
Force Protection has commenced low-rate production of the Cheetah at its Ladson, South Carolina, facility and Force Dynamics has begun to procure long-lead materials to move from limited to extended production of Cheetah vehicles.
Mike Cannon, chairman of the board for Force Dynamics and vice president, Ground Combat Systems, at General Dynamics Land Systems, commented, “We are confident that the respective strengths of each of the partners contributing to this effort position our submission extremely well.
“We believe we offer an unmatched combination of research and development expertise; manufacturing ability and an excellent logistics network to our customer. We are excited to enter the testing and evaluation phase of the M-ATV program and to have the continued opportunity to serve our customer and the war fighter with some of the most important and life-saving equipment on the battlefield,” Cannon adds.