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U.S. Army Ground Combat Vehicle Program Continues Moving Forward

Emerging from the ashes of the Future Combat Systems (FCS) program cancellation, the U.S. Army’s Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) initiative continues to take shape and definition in addressing the needs of tomorrow’s combat vehicle fleet.

Specifically, the same June 23, 2009 Acquisition Decision Memorandum that cancelled FCS 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.”

Responding to an early September “sources sought” announcement from the U.S. Army’s TACOM Life Cycle Management Command (LCMC), interested industry representatives filed statements highlighting their experience and capabilities across a range of tactical performance traits.

Those statements were all filed no later than Oct. 7, 2009, a date coinciding with the last day of the Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) annual meeting in Washington, D.C. Not surprisingly, many of the industry exhibits at the massive AUSA gathering placed company spotlights on the same technologies and capabilities sought by the Army.

Just nine days after the capabilities statements cut-off date, the Army conducted its first briefing to industry in support of an anticipated Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) program. The unclassified briefing, held in Dearborn, Mich., had three primary goals: familiarizing participants with the emerging GCV requirement; promoting understanding of the proposal requirements; and promoting discussion of synergistic capabilities among potential program participants.

Although neither program solicitation nor draft solicitation was presented at the initial industry day, the Army quickly followed with a number of releases that helped to fill the void.

One key data release occurred on Oct. 19, 2009, when the Army advised potential offerors for the yet-to-be released GCV program solicitation that they could “choose to utilize to leverage the development from the cancelled [FCS] Manned Ground Vehicle (MGV) program.”

Industry access to that earlier FCS-derived data, which is now referred to as “the MGV body of knowledge,” is seen as key to maximizing the return on FCS platform development taxpayer investments made over the past several years.

The same day that the MGV body of knowledge became available to potential offerors, the Army also made available both draft specification and draft capabilities development documents for the GCV. Cautioning, “The specification / CDD eventually released with the GCV Request for Proposal may differ markedly from this version,” the announcement explained that the data was being provided at this time “to allow industry adequate time to understand the GCV requirement and provide feedback to the Army. Offerors are reminded that the specific requirements for that procurement will be contained in the Request for Proposal upon its release.”

Continuing forward toward its planned new acquisition program launch, the Army has recently released an announcement for “GCV Industry Day II.” The event is slated to be held at the Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) facility located on the TACOM LCMC campus on Nov. 23 – 24, 2009, with the afternoon of Nov. 24 devoted to a separate half-day classified session.

Reiterating that, “The GCV program is a development program addressing the Army’s need to develop a next generation combat vehicle,” the latest announcement notes, “A solicitation will not be released prior to this Industry Day nor will a draft solicitation be presented at this event but a detailed look at the GCV requirement will be presented.”

“The goal of this meeting is to provide detailed information about the GCV requirement and other pertinent, detailed information regarding the requirement,” it adds.

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