As I’ve written elsewhere, setting a story in the near future sometimes requires some attempt at clairvoyance. Some of the weapons systems that will be used in a future war are still in development. Some might not exist yet, but getting too crazy sci-fi could derail things, so I’ve got to strike a balance. One of those systems that I introduce in Escalation is the M5 Powell Infantry Fighting Vehicle. This is set up as the replacement for the M2 Bradley IFV, which has been in service since 1981.
Now, there is an M2 replacement in the works. The Army calls it the Next Generation Combat Vehicle program, and the Request For Proposals went out in March of this year. Right at the moment, there are three major contenders, the BAE Systems CV90 Mk IV, the Rheinmetall and Raytheon Lynx IFV, and the General Dynamics Griffin III.
It should be pointed out that this isn’t the first attempt that has been made to replace the M2. It might amount to nothing much, just like several recent Defense acquisition programs, such as the AAAV, the Future Combat Systems program, the Ground Combat Vehicle, which was a scaled-back version of FCS, and many more. A lot of these programs go over budget and get canceled.
But from a storytelling point of view, I had to make a decision. Predictions in fiction are fickle things. Eventually, you’ve just got to say, “Thumbs up, let’s do this,” and make the call for the DoD, regardless of what’s really going to happen.
So, I picked the General Dynamics Griffin III as the basis for the M5 Powell. It does seem to be the vehicle in the running to win the NGCV contract.
The Griffin III/M5 Powell is a modular design, that can be configured multiple ways. The Infantry Fighting Vehicle configuration that I described in Escalation is a probable “Bradley Replacement” configuration, with a 50mm cannon and a troop compartment in the rear that can carry four soldiers.
Of course, this is less than the Bradley’s 6-7 passengers, which creates some logistical problems. So, given the costs of replacing vehicles, and the state of the Army’s budget at the beginning of the Maelstrom Rising series, I had to make another decision.
A Bradley platoon is, by TO, usually four vehicles, with three-man crews, a Platoon Leader, and three nine-man squads split between the four vehicles. With only four dismounts per Powell, the math doesn’t add up. So, I decided that the new mechanized infantry platoon would consist of five vehicles: two Powells for firepower and armor, and three older Strykers to carry more soldiers.
Is it what’s actually going to happen if and when the Army gets new vehicles? No idea. But as a storyteller, sometimes you’ve got to make decisions that make some sense and just roll with them. Because none of us have a crystal ball to tell us what exactly is going to happen.
Particularly not when it comes to Pentagon acquisitions and unit-shuffling.