In what some might see as an “on again; off again; and now back on again” process, the U.S. Army has released a “new” Request for Proposals (RFP) for the technology development (TD) phase of the Infantry Fighting Vehicle element of its Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) program [see “U.S. Army Outlines Revised GCV Approach”].
According to Michael Smith, Mounted Concepts and Requirements Development, Maneuver Center of Excellence, the Army has had to adapt its future GCV Infantry Fighting Vehicle requirement “significantly, based on a changing threat that has been adapting much faster in terms of asymmetric threats – i.e. going to IEDs and EFPs versus the traditional cannon, missile, and RPG threats that we had [in the past] planned for. So we have taken lessons learned and we have tried to adapt the platform requirements to get that infantry squad of nine men to where it is they need to be on the battlefield in a protected environment – with force protection being the overriding operational concern that we have to balance everything else against – so that they can execute the cornerstone of our maneuver operations: executing tactical fire and maneuver in a small unit formation to accomplish the commander’s intent.”
He continued, “What that has translated to in terms of requirements [is carrying] the nine-man squad with all of its kit; having lethality on the platform to provide support to that squad while they are on the ground; having network connectivity so that they have situational awareness of what’s going on within the formation; and…having the ability to ‘grow’ that platform in terms of size, weight, power, and computational capability, so that as we enhance other capabilities we are able to place those in. And given the wide spectrum of conflict we are expected to operate in we have made a requirement for things like the armor to be modular and scalable so that we can, in fact, tailor the configuration of the platform to better match the operational environment.”
Turning to specifics of the new RFP, Col. Andy DiMarco, U.S. Army GCV project manager, emphasized that the TD phase would be a full and open competition running 24 months.
In terms of differences from previous RFPs, DiMarco pointed to the concept of “trade space,” where industry responses will be able to explore and balance the “hard requirements” noted by Smith against other requirements that the contractors will be able to prioritize within the competitive responses. In addition, the new RFP now provides “affordability targets” for both “average unit manufacturing costs” ($9 – $10.5 million) and life cycle operating costs per mile (objective less than $200).
“In addition to the affordability and full and open competition, we have changed the contract type to a ‘fixed price incentive fee’ contract type and we have also placed a ceiling per contractor of $450 million for the TD phase,” he said. “That is significantly different from the last RFP and we think it is both in tune with where the Department [of Defense] is taking us and the recent guidance that Dr. [Ashton] Carter [Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics] has put out, as well as meeting some of the Army objectives. It will help shape the terms of industry response, but also I think is tied directly to the fact that we are also asking industry to look at and try to utilize as much mature technology as possible for this effort.
He added, “We are trying to drive down the time it will take to design, fabricate, test and deliver the systems, as well as meeting the objectives we have gotten within DoD and the Army.”
The Army anticipates awarding up to three contracts for the technology development phase in the early third quarter of 2011. Delivery of the first production vehicle is expected within seven years of the initial contract award.
The Infantry Fighting Vehicle will be developed in three phases commencing after the initial contract award: technology development, engineering and manufacturing development, and production and deployment.”
Army representatives stress that the service “remains firmly committed to the Ground Combat Vehicle program as the centerpiece of its combat vehicle modernization strategy, which will provide soldiers with protected mobility and a decisive edge in both current and future combat environments. The RFP clearly conveys the Army’s priorities in terms of capabilities, while providing industry with a successful framework to design and develop an effective and affordable Infantry Fighting Vehicle.”