SLUG: 2-269377 U-S Army Vehicle (L) DATE: NOTE NUMBER:

DATE= 11/17/00







INTRO: The U-S Army has decided to buy over two thousand new armored vehicles in a move that marks a major shift away from the Cold War era of heavy battle tanks to lighter, more mobile forces. V-O-A Pentagon Correspondent Alex Belida reports it will be the Army's first new armored vehicle purchase in two decades.

TEXT: It isn't every day, or even every year, that the U-S Army or any army for that matter announces the purchase of a new armored vehicle.

But at the Pentagon Friday, senior Army officials announced a nearly four-billion dollar plan to acquire more than 21-hundred new lightweight, armored vehicles intended to be used in future rapid deployment operations.

The new vehicle weighs about half as much as the current troop carrier in use by the military.

Lieutenant General Paul Kern is the Army's top acquisitions official. He says the new armored vehicle is designed to fill a gap in the Army's arsenal and to meet the challenges of such recent combat environments as Saudi Arabia, Somalia and the Balkans.


It is a judgment of what is the balance of the kinds of situations that you are going to find yourself in in the 21st century and we believe that this is a characteristic missing from the United States Army to go very quickly across not necessarily highways but improved roads and gives us very good cross-country mobility as well.


At nearly 19 tons, the new vehicles may not seem lightweight. But they are light enough to be transported aboard the entire range of U-S military transport aircraft, including the workhorse C-130.

There will be several variants of the basic model that will allow the new wheeled vehicles to perform a host of battlefield duties ranging from carrying troops to acting as weapons platforms for cannons, mortars and anti-tank missiles.

They will have a top speed of just under 100 kilometers an hour and a maximum range of close to 500 kilometers.

While the U-S Army's purchase of these vehicles is new, the base vehicle made by a partnership between General Motors and General Dynamics - is already in use by the armed forces of several other countries, including Canada, Denmark, Sweden and Ireland. The U-S Marines also have a variant but it has much lighter armor.

While the Army formally calls its new purchase the "Interim Armored Vehicle," officials say it is expected to remain in use for 30 years. The Army says it wants to get the new vehicles into service as soon as possible but the first may not be available until 2002. (Signed)