The Army’s next armored personnel carrier will carry six fully kitted-out infantry soldiers and two crew, and a newly designed 50mm chain gun mounted on a turret that can be operated remotely.

The vehicle, which the Army is now calling the XM30 Mechanized Infantry Combat Vehicle, will replace the decades-old M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle as the service’s primary armored troop carrier.

The Army announced Monday it had selected two companies to advance to produce a final round of prototypes for the vehicle, which is due to arrive at operational units in 2029. After a final round of testing and reviews of those prototypes, one company will be awarded the final multi-billion dollar contract to build the vehicle.

Out of five competing companies, General Dynamics Land Systems and American Rheinmetall Vehicles, both of Sterling Heights, Michigan, were picked to advance in the competition, a key moment in the service’s long-delayed push to replace the Bradley.

“This is our third or fourth attempt to replace the Bradley and this one’s going to succeed,” said Doug Bush, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology, in a Monday press conference announcing the contract awards.

Subscribe to Task & Purpose Today. Get the latest military news and culture in your inbox daily.

The Army rebooted the program in 2020 when only General Dynamics submitted a bid for the project. That hiccup followed a series of delays for the program, which the Army then referred to as the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle.

Defense officials said Monday that, despite the “optionally manned” title of the program, the vehicle is unlikely to operate without a crew or be remotely drivable.

Soldiers who eventually ride in or operate the XM30 will find it similar to the Bradley, officials say, but with some key differences. The heavily armored vehicle will carry six soldiers, the same as the Bradley. But while the Bradley has three crew members, automation will cut that number to two.

The vehicle’s main weapon will be the XM913 50mm chain gun developed by Northrop Grumman, which the Army says has twice the range of the Bradley’s 25mm gun. The gun will be wired to a system that should allow soldiers to fire it remotely, reducing the exposure of a dedicated gunner to incoming fire. 

However, while an Air Force C-17 can fly three Bradleys at once, the cargo plane will be able to fly just two XM30s, officials say.

The latest on Task & Purpose