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A new request for proposals demonstrates that the US Army’s new fighting vehicle will be designed with an unprecedented amount of decision-making power to manufacturers. Rather than releasing a list of specifications and requirements as it has in the past, the service is offering prospective makers nine broader characteristics for the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) that underscore what it needs to do. The Army is not even demanding a specific size or passenger capacity for the vehicle, allowing competing companies to get creative.

This could mean vehicles that look radically different than their Bradley Fighting Vehicle predecessors, or even a fleet of vehicles containing several different variants.

As the name suggests, the Army does need the vehicle to operate with or without a driver, and possess driverless-car autonomy that enables it to choose a route and dodge obstacles. 

It also must have an open-architecture framework and the ability to update technology seamlessly, the way a smartphone updates apps.

Other characteristics stipulated by the Army include survivability; enough mobility to keep pace with the M1 Abrams tank; enough platoon-level power to defeat near-peer competitors; weight light enough to traverse 80% of main supply routes in Europe; logistics and maintenance diagnostic features in step with today’s newest cars; transportability by air, rail, sea and all other primary means; and embedded training capabilities compatible with the service’s synthetic training environment.

According to military.com, Army leaders are also looking to link a much-hailed future infantry tool — the Integrated Visual Augmentation System, or IVAS, goggles — into the OMFV’s network in order to deliver the most up-to-date information to soldiers on their way to a fight.