Patton and Rommel would love General Dynamics Land Systems' (GDLS) products. A business unit of General Dynamics' Combat Systems division, GDLS makes tracked and wheeled armored and amphibious combat vehicles for the US military and its allies (for personnel transport, medical evacuation, fire support, anti-tank missions, combat engineering, and reconnaissance). Its big gun is the Abrams main battle tank (MBT). Other products include the Stryker infantry combat vehicle and gun systems, its LAV family of combat and reconnaissance vehicles, mine resistant ambush protected vehicles (MRAPs), the Marines' Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV), and the FOX Nuclear Biological Chemical Reconnaissance System.
GDLS counts the US Army, Navy, and National Guard among its customers. At times it partners with other General Dynamics subsidiaries including American Overseas Marine (AMSEA), Bath Iron Works, Electric Boat, Gulfstream Aerospace, Jet Aviation, and NASSCO.
The company is the only producer in the US of the Abrams MBT, which has been the anchor and spearhead of mechanized ground assaults and on-ground security; it is the only battle tank used by the US military. While proving to be a moving fortress against combat ballistics, the Abrams MBT is extremely vulnerable when it comes to federal funding. This project, as well as the entire company, is at the mercy of the US Department of Defense (DoD), and what the US defense budget will cover. As the need for military presence in the Middle East transitions from Iraq to Afghanistan, the DoD is structuring its budget accordingly. Funding for combat warfare equipment is being cut, but high-tech systems, such as advanced sensors, communications, cyber security, logistics, and unmanned reconnaissance vehicles, are getting the big bucks.
The reasoning behind the budgetary shift is based on the US's desire to increase the flexibility, speed, and precision of the military. GDLS's lighter, smaller, and faster armored vehicles, such as the EFV and the Stryker, are critical in this respect and have been in particular demand as troops try to control combat situations on the ground. Additionally, General Dynamics Robotic Systems, which is a part of GDLS, has designed an Autonomous Navigation Systems (ANS) program to create sensors and technology that enable navigation, perception, path-planning, and vehicle-following capabilities for unmanned ground vehicles.
While the Pentagon has proposed an MBT production halt by 2013 (to begin again in 2017), the Abrams tank has a lot of fans in the House of Representatives and Congress; certain governmental lawmakers are endeavoring to preserve the program. Even if production is reduced, the representatives are advocating for the tank upgrade program. There is concern as to the resulting loss of jobs in Michigan, as well as the time and money required to shutdown and then restart production.
As warfare continues, GDLS (which is the main contractor for maintenance and repair of Abrams tanks and Stryker vehicles) expects replacement and refurbishment of battle-damaged vehicles to increase. In partnership with the Anniston Army Depot, Land Systems updates the oldest M1A1s to like-new condition in a process called Abrams Integrated Management (AIM). The US Army used about $10 million in funding to contract GDLS for the double-V hull design that upgrades Stryker armored combat vehicles; the V-shape provides more blast protection for a battlefield vehicle. The Stryker can be designed in 10 varying configurations depending on its purpose.
As defense spending favors more high-tech, as opposed to traditional warfare equipment, GDLS is doing its best to adapt to the changing demands of the market, as well as expand its customer base by introducing new products into existing markets. This unit makes additional weapon systems including anti-tank guided missile systems, turret systems, and integrated battlefield information systems (IBS) that use modern digital technology to provide tactical information to commanders. This battlefield technology is supported by the more than $8 million Maneuver Collaboration Center (MC2), which opened in fall 2010. MC2 serves as a think tank for engineers, suppliers, and active military for the collaborative design and construction of new military land vehicles.
GDLS is looking to land more projects and contracts. It is heading up an approved bidding team, including Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, and has submitted its proposal to the US Army's $20 billion Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) program, which is scheduled to be fielded in 2017. GDLS is facing competition from BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman to design a GCV that will offer more protection (for a better survival rate) than MRAPs and better maneuverability to operate in urban environments, as well as cross-country terrain. GDLS recognizes the synergies between the GCV and its Abrams tank. If awarded the contract, GDLS plans to leverage the research and technology (such as sensors, diesel engine transmission, active protection system, etc.) from the GCV program to develop a new, upgraded Abrams tank.
The company builds its vehicles at plants in Eynon, Pennsylvania; Lima, Ohio; Sterling Heights, Michigan; Tallahassee, Florida; and Woodbridge, Virginia. It also has manufacturing facilities in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, and Switzerland.
General Dynamics Land Systems was formed when General Dynamics acquired and integrated Chrysler's defense operations in 1982.