BAE Systems is discovering life after production for its stalwart Bradley Fighting Vehicles.

As the contractor nears the end of the main production run for Bradleys — whose average per-vehicle age across the fleet is only six years — BAE has been hunting for sustainment deals that will keep the program alive until a next-generation replacement is needed.

BAE has found ample life-support with a recent contract to modernize 353 Bradleys for select National Guard units; the contractor also is working on a reset deal to refurbish vehicles used in recent military conflicts.

The company received a $306 million contract modification to upgrade the vehicles.

This production contract is in addition to $340 million in funding the company has received to purchase upgrade materials for the Bradley program, bringing the full contract total to $646 million.

BAE will upgrade Bradley Operation Desert Storm M2A2, M3A2 and M7 Bradley Fire Support Team vehicles to Operation Desert Storm Situational Awareness (ODS-SA) configurations, given them most of the same enhancements at the A-3 vehicles.

The Bradley ODS-SA upgrade integrates the latest digitized electronics providing soldiers with optimal situational awareness, network connectivity and enhanced communication hardware. The improvements are meant to reduce logistics headaches, while enhancing battlefield performance to meet a variety of mission requirements in close-combat, urban scenarios and open-combat situations.

“This puts a digital backbone into the vehicle,” Roy Perkins, business director of Army programs, tells the Aviation Week Intelligence Network.

Going from analog to digital, he says, will enable the upgraded Bradleys to support new features like a crew-compartment screen that provides the same situational awareness as vehicle commanders have, Perkins notes.

The digital improvements also will make it possible to better integrate networking systems.

Also included in the upgrade package are second-generation forward looking infrared sensors, better protection against improvised explosive devices and other improvements meant to bolster crew protection.

With this contract secured and a reset deal in its sights, BAE is looking at Bradley modernization opportunities, Perkins says.

The contractor is trying to identify vehicle upgrades, he says, and BAE also wants to “buy back” some of the protection enhancements made a decade ago, which made the vehicle slower and less efficient in delivering its own electrical power.

The Army, Perkins says, is eyeing changes as part of a research, development, testing and evaluation effort.

“Around 2020, we’ll start revamping Bradleys that are not going to be replaced by the GCVs [Ground Combat Vehicles],” he says.

Perkins also says the Bradley could be deployed as a multi-purpose vehicle, such as a motor carrier, ambulance or mobile surgical vehicle. The Army is expected to release a request for proposals for such an all-purpose vehicle this winter.