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GCV Solicitation Brings Industry Teaming

Industry teaming activities have begun to accelerate in the aftermath of the Feb. 26, 2010 U.S. Army release of its formal solicitation for the Technology Development phase of its Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) program.

Envisioned as “the next generation Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) for the United States Army,” GCV serves as a key element within Army modernization to provide soldiers with “greater survivability, infantry carrying ability and lethality than current force vehicles.”

“The idea is that you want it to be able to be flexible so that it can meet the survivability threats that you need for today,” noted Col. Bryan McVeigh, U.S. Army project manager for manned systems integration. “For example, it needs to have ballistic survivability greater than Bradley; greater lethality than Bradley; IED and mine protection greater than MRAP; but we still want the cross-country mobility of an Abrams tank. And that’s in the ‘art of the doable.’”

Expanding on the survivability aspects, he added, “How we’re going to do that is through basically a modular approach to armor solutions. The threshold requirements are basically ‘Level Zero’ – which provides you with basically an ability to defeat the kinds of threats we are seeing in theater today, to ‘Level One’ – which would provide you with basically the capability to defeat a peer or near-peer type threat.”

Although the first variant of GCV will be an Infantry Fighting Vehicle, McVeigh was quick to clarify that this should not be seen as a replacement for the Bradley “family” but rather “an Infantry Fighting Vehicle that, capability-wise, can do some things that are more robust than the Bradley system that we have today.”

Against this background, industry participants have begun to announce the formation of new teaming arrangements to address the GCS requirement. As an example, on March 1, 2010, BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman Corporation announced an agreement in which BAE Systems would serve as the prime contractor in the partnership, with Northrop Grumman serving as the C4ISR (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) lead, responsible for integration of command and control hardware and software, computers and communications equipment, sensors and sensor suites for intelligence gathering and force protection, and other functionality that requires “plug and play” with the internal network or provides situational awareness across external networks.

Other teaming announcements, including teammate selection by General Dynamics Land Systems, are believed to be imminent as of this writing.

Industry proposals for the TD phase will be submitted by April 26. Follow-on source selection board activities are projected to lead to a “Milestone A” decision in September 2010 and the award of “up to three” contracts for the 27-month TD phase. At the completion of that phase, a “Milestone B” decision will lead to the award of “up to two” contracts for the subsequent engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase.

According to McVeigh, the last Army ground vehicle program to feature two contractors during EMD was the Abrams main battle tank.

“That was Chrysler and GM,” he said. “And I believe one of the reasons why we have an Abrams tank today that is as flexible as it is, is because they kept that competition in the design.”

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