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Army Releases Draft RFP for Individual Carbine

Ending months of anticipation and expectation, on Jan. 31 the U.S. Army released the draft Request for Proposal (RFP) for the Individual Carbine (IC) program.

“The government has determined a need to find the best IC weapon that provides the best value to the government,” the cover announcement reads. “The Individual Carbine will enable the engagement of enemy combatants with a highly reliable weapon system throughout the range of military operations and environments. The IC will also possess the ability to utilize current and future weapon accessories and optics through the use of an integrated rail system. The IC will replace selected current capability weapon system(s) and leverage commercial technology advancements. The IC requirements support future system enhancements for accuracy, lethality, reliability, signature suppression, ammunition improvements, maintenance and other weapon/accessory technologies.”

As outlined in the draft RFP, current program plans call for the government to pursue a three-phase approach, “ending with a final down selection for a single new carbine design.”

The first phase will include evaluation of the physical characteristics of the hardware offered by industry, as well as evaluation of the offerors’ facility production capability, and review of the supporting cost/price proposal.

The government release also includes a series of draft evaluation factors for the carbine. As an example, in terms of weight, a “significant strength” will be assessed for a candidate, with loaded magazine, weighing no more than 7.50 lbs. That evaluation drops to “strength” between 7.50 and 8.00 lbs; “weakness” between 8.00 and 8.50 lbs; “significant weakness” between 8.50 and 9.00 lbs; and “deficiency” at more than 9.00 lbs.

“At the conclusion of Phase I, the most highly rated IC candidates as determined by the Source Selection Authority (SSA) will proceed into Phase II evaluation,” the draft notes. Phase II activities will consist of specific hardware testing, as well as evaluation of the written technical proposal, management, cost/price, government purpose rights (GPR), fielding impact, and past performance.

According to the current draft, “After the completion of Phase II, an award decision will occur that will result in the award of a firm-fixed price IDIQ contract to no more than three (3) vendors entering Phase III of the evaluation.” That third phase will include “a Developmental Test (DT), Limited User Evaluation (LUE), as well as Facility Capability Plan, GPR Proposal and Contract Cost/Price with a final trade-off analysis and selection to one design.”

The RFP adds that the “total period of performance in which the government requires to procure a maximum quantity of 178,890 units (inclusive of options) is seven (7) years,” a period that includes one base year to conduct phase III of the source selection process to down-select to a single design.

Release of the draft RFP allows potential offerors to participate in a question and answer process with IC personnel. In addition, an “industry day” has been slated for March 30, 2011, in the Washington D.C./Crystal City area, where “Only interested parties within the small arms industry will be granted admittance.” That event, which will provide for both government program presentation and written question and answer session, will pave the way for the subsequent release of the formal RFP.

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