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Army Begins New Ground Combat Vehicle Exploration

In the wake of the June 23, 2009, Acquisition Decision Memorandum (ADM) that terminated the Manned Ground Vehicle portion of the previous U.S. Army Future Combat Systems (FCS) program, the Army has taken the initial steps forward on an alternative modernization approach for its combat vehicle fleet.

In the same ADM that had cancelled the vehicle elements, Defense Department representatives directed the Army to conduct  “an assessment with the Marine Corps of joint capability gaps for ground combat vehicles. The assessment will inform new requirements for Army ground combat vehicle modernization, leading to the launch of a new acquisition program in 2010.”

On Sept. 3, 2009, the U.S. Army’s TACOM Life Cycle Management Command (TACOM LCMC) published a “sources sought” notice “for information and planning purposes only,” calling for voluntary responses that “demonstrate an understanding of the development and production of ground combat vehicles.”

Industry respondents to the announcement will be allowed to submit “a tailored capability statement for this requirement not to exceed twenty (20) single sided pages including all attachments, resumes, charts, etc. (single spaced, 12 point font minimum) that clearly detail the ability to perform the aspects” of four major areas outlined in the sources sought notice: technical, facilities, management, and experience.

In terms of the technical arena, for example, the announcement notes, “The U.S. Army is planning on developing and fielding, in an incremental approach, a class of ground combat vehicles that will be integrated into the Army’s Brigade Combat Teams (BCT), a class of vehicles that will introduce, over time, various platforms (variants) to the BCT in an incremental acquisition approach starting with a lead vehicle development effort. This notice seeks to identify firms capable of designing, developing and producing the U.S. Army’s next generation of highly survivable, lethal and supportable ground combat vehicles…”

Against that backdrop the tailored capability statements should describe each firm’s “experience and corporate knowledge in the development and integration of combat vehicles that are expected to achieve highly challenging interoperability, (vehicle and crew) survivability, lethality, mobility, supportability, availability, affordability and transportability objectives.”

The announcement continues, “In addition, describe your firm’s ability to develop, integrate and produce: Highly reliable, interoperable and real time network capabilities; Software-intensive mission and safety critical systems; Non-lethal capabilities for ground combat vehicles; [and] Embedded training capabilities introducing state of the art in training as an integral part of the combat vehicle.”

Respondent facilities and management must also be addressed through the attempted identification of such as whether they “have or can develop and obtain the expertise, capacity, facilities and qualifications for potentially managing, developing and producing an increasing number of varying ground combat vehicle platforms.”

Finally, responses to the notice must describe each firm’s “capabilities and experience in developing and producing multiple systems in a collaborative and highly concurrent development environment.”

“Describe your firm’s existing efforts that are potentially comparable and applicable to this effort,” it reads. “Describe your firm’s capability to stand up a team equipped with well established processes and product development environment. Describe your firm’s systems engineering expertise, processes, and environments that a complex development effort will require across multiple teams and the integration of these activities/products to achieve the established system-level objectives. Identify if your firm utilizes an established quality control system. Identify if your firm utilizes an established systems engineering process.”

The capability statement responses are due no later that 1500 Eastern on Oct. 7, 2009.

The notice adds,” If a Request for Proposal (RFP) is issued following this notice, it is anticipated that a requirement for contract performance will include the ability to handle classified (SECRET/NOFORN) information and comply with the applicable International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR).”

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

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    Neil Baumgardner

    Hey Scott, so if LTG Vane says that the Army needs growth potential,cost and sustainability, and acquisition reform – in how it buys its combat vehicles – and that these issues apply to the Bradley, the Abrams and the Paladin (http://thehill.com/opinion/op-ed/77883-why-army-needs-new-combat-vehicle) – how come GCV is focused solely on an IFV? Why isnt there any incentivization to industry to design adaptability to other missions/roles – such as direct fire, a self-propelled howitzer, reconnaissance, etc – into the platform now?

    Why leave artillery with a 50+ year old SPH (or at best a warmed over 30+ year old chassis under PIM), and armor with a 30+ year old tank? That $87 billion for the FCS MGVs was supposed to field 8 variants. The same money(?) will field ? GCV variants? How much of that $87 billion will be left over after the IFV is development & fielded?