On October 30th, the US Department of Defense announced several contracts it had concluded, and namely one for 624 small unmanned robotic multipurpose equipment transport systems, worth $162.4 million.
These are Multi-Utility Tactical Transport (MUTT) under the Small Multipurpose Equipment Transports (SMET) program.
The contract was concluded with General Dynamics Land Systems Inc. (GDLS) and deliveries are expected to begin in the second quarter of Fiscal Year 2021, with a completion date of October 29th, 2024.
The ordered unmanned transport platforms comply with the concept of the so-called “robotic mules” and are intended for the transportation of goods and equipment as part of infantry units at the squad and platoon level.
The selected MUTT platform developed by GDLS is an 8×8 wheeled vehicle with an electric hybrid drive.
US Army SMET requirements include optional human or remote control, autonomous mobility, transportation of up to 1,000 pounds (454 kg) of cargo (compartmentalized assets for 9 men), 72 hours of operation, 60 miles of power reserve, 1 kW silent power generation in movement and 3 kW in the parking lot, the ability to recharge soldiers’ equipment (walkie-talkies, night vision goggles, tablets). With full-scale production, the cost of one platform should not exceed $100 thousand.
The specifications of the MUTT platform announced by GDLS in the 8×8 version are:
- maximum weight with a load of 3,500 pounds (1,589 kg);
- payload mass of 1,200 pounds (545 kg);
- length is 116 inches (2947 mm), and width of 60-70 inches (1524-1778 mm);
- a power reserve of 60 miles (with 5 gallons of fuel);
- remote control is provided at a range of up to 200 m with a simple one-handed remote control;
- it is possible to provide movement on water;
GDLS also developed lighter MUTT variants with 6×6 (900 pounds load) and 4×4 (last optionally tracked, 600 pounds load) wheel configurations, but they clearly don’t fit the current requirements set out by the US Army.
In April 2017, the U.S. Army issued an industry request for an accelerated acquisition of crewless transport platforms under the Other Transaction Authority (OTA) program under the SMET program based on existing developments.
In September 2017, the first phase of testing 10 prototype platforms under the SMET program from eight manufacturers was launched in Fort Benning, Georgia. Based on their results.
In November 2017, prototypes of four suppliers were selected – MUTT from GDLS; MRZR-X Consortium Polaris Industries Inc., Applied Research Associates Inc. (ARA) and Neya Systems LLC; Hunter Wolf from HDT Global; and Grizzly RS2-H1 from a consortium of Textron Systems and Howe & Howe Technologies.
The American Robot Company, Lockheed Martin, AM General, Roboteam NA and QinetiQ North America were rejected.
In January 2019, four types passed the seven-month second phase of testing under the SMET program, each of the contractors provided 20 platforms for testing. Of these 20 prototypes of each sample, four prototypes were tested at a test center in Fort Benig, and eight units were tested in parts of the 10th Mountain and 101st Air Assault Divisions of the US Army.
Finally, the GDLS system was chosen.
Other contracts signed by the Pentagon include:
- $62 million with Boeing Co. for performance-based logistics support for the AH-64D/E Apache Attack helicopter, and the work is to be completed on April 30th, 2024;
- $49 million with AGCM Inc., Alliance Consulting Group Inc., PCS and MOCA JV LLC, Professional Project Services Inc., Project Time and Cost LLC and Michael Baker International Inc. for firm-fixed-price contract for architect-engineering services. The orders are not given out yet, the listed companies will compete for them;
- BAE Systems Technology Solutions & Services Inc. was awarded $69 million for indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for up to 931,200 man hours of installation and certification technical support to the Combat Integration and Identification Systems Division, Naval Air Warfare Center, Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) Webster Outlying Field and Patuxent River in support of the Navy and the governments of Japan, South Korea and Australia;
- Aircraft Readiness Alliance LLC was awarded $55 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-fixed-fee contract. This is a contract for the provision of depot level maintenance services in support of the Fleet Readiness Center Southwest mission;
- AUSTAL USA LLC, Mobile was awarded $21.5 million on top of a previously awarded contract to accomplish advance planning, material procurement and work in support of the post shakedown availability (PSA) of the littoral combat ship USS Charleston;
- Boeing Co. was awarded another $17.6 million to its order for the performance of 27 modifications in support of the Increment 3 Block 1 retrofit requirement for P-8A aircraft for the Navy and the government of Australia;
- Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. was awarded a $10.5 million addition for the development and delivery of an enhanced simulator database and project management support for the F-35 aircraft in support of the government of Japan;
- Lockheed Martin Co. was awarded an additional $7.2 million for the AN/UMQ-13 Meteorological Data Station MARK IV-B System sustainment.
Approximately $80 million were awarded for various defense logistics such as transmissions, medical supplies and camouflage coveralls so that the soldiers become “invisible.”
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