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Army Attempts to Salvage GCV Technology Advances

The U.S. Army is preparing to salvage the technology advances made under its terminated Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) program.

The GCV program itself had emerged from the ashes of the terminated Future Combat System Manned Ground Vehicle element. GCV was seen as a replacement for the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle, able to accommodate a full nine-man infantry squad in a vehicle that would feature increased underbelly and ballistic protection with scalable armor that provides maximum mission flexibility. As late as April 2013, service leadership was highlighting GCV as “one of the Army’s two top vehicle modernization programs.”

Based on two announcements released on July 18, 2014, that funding is being directed toward the two GCV Technology Development phase prime contractors: General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) and BAE Systems Land and Armaments.

When U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel subsequently announced the termination of GCV in late February 2014, Army officials characterized the decision as purely budgetary and emphasized that the program was not experiencing any technical or developmental problems. They added that some level of funding might be used to continue engineering-related efforts.

Based on two announcements released on July 18, 2014, that funding is being directed toward the two GCV Technology Development phase prime contractors: General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) and BAE Systems Land and Armaments.

BAE GCV concept

Artist’s rendering of BAE’s GCV concept. BAE Systems image

One announcement states government intent “to issue a sole source contract” to GDLS “for the acquisition of systems engineering and analysis services necessary to maintain the current level of expertise and efficiencies supporting the subsystem design effort created under the Ground Combat Vehicle effort for assessment of future technologies for a Future Fighting Vehicle (FFV) system.”

One primary difference in the planned BAE Systems award description notes that “BAE will utilize the GCV TD phase integrated hybrid-electric propulsion and mobility subsystems Automotive Test Rig (ATR) and the hybrid-electric integrated propulsion subsystem (Hotbuck).

The announcement notes that the proposed contract activities “will be based on leveraging GDLS’ unique preliminary system design and subsystem design work developed during the GCV Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) effort to continue to develop FFV system design concepts,” adding that “GDLS will utilize the GCV integrated propulsion and mobility subsystems Automotive Test Rig (ATR) and the conventional drive integrated propulsion subsystem.”

The other announcement describes similar contract intent for a planned contract award to BAE Systems. One primary difference in the planned BAE Systems award description notes that “BAE will utilize the GCV TD phase integrated hybrid-electric propulsion and mobility subsystems Automotive Test Rig (ATR) and the hybrid-electric integrated propulsion subsystem (Hotbuck). Due to the use of a hybrid-electric propulsion, the contractor is required to design and implement a calibration map for all components within their hybrid system. This will support the profile cycle testing and the characterization of component efficiencies within an integrated propulsion system. In addition, the aforementioned assets were solely designed by BAE.”

The estimated award date for the two planned Not-To-Exceed (NTE) Ceiling Unpriced Contract Actions (UCA) is mid August 2014.

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Scott Gourley is a former U.S. Army officer and the author of more than 1,500...