With nearly 300 industry representatives in attendance, U.S. Army representatives recently provided an update on the emerging Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) program. The gathering was designed to familiarize GCV participants with program requirements changes in the aftermath of the Aug. 25 cancellation of the initial Request for Proposals (RFP).
“The key purposes of the day were, number one, to re-familiarize industry with our vision for what we want to get out of the Ground Combat Vehicle program,” explained Col. Andrew DiMarco, U.S. Army project manager, Ground Combat Vehicle. “The second purpose was to promote networking among potential program participants, primarily industry – both large and small. The third was to give an overview at a high level of the program strategy that we have been working very closely with both Army leadership as well as OSD leadership in particular along the acquisition chain – the Army Acquisition Executive and Defense Acquisition Executive. [The final purpose was] to give industry some insights on what to expect when we do release the RFP, so they can begin to think about how to respond and anticipate the RFP release and the source selection.”
DiMarco added that “key themes” have emerged in five major areas.
“First, we emphasized the need for a new Ground Combat Vehicle, in particular an Infantry Fighting Vehicle, based on lessons learned, the operational environment, and certainly drawing upon capability gaps that have been defined in the JROC [Joint Requirements Oversight Council]-approved GCV ICD [Initial Capabilities Document],” he said. “That was emphasized, I think, in particular by one of our guest speakers, Lt. Gen. Vane from TRADOC ARCIC.
“The second [theme] was a commitment to moving forward,” he added. “Given the cancellation of the previous RFP there has certainly been a lot of attention on where the Army and DoD was heading with this program. Frankly, since we canceled we have been working diligently with the leadership on reshaping strategy and reshaping content in order to meet the key objectives…So the commitment is there.”
“Affordability is another major theme that is probably new this go-around,” he continued. “It is much more ‘up front’ now – being able to develop over the course of this program something, at the end of the day, from a production perspective and even out into life cycle costs/O&S costs, a product that we can in fact as an Army and as a Department of Defense, afford.”
Identifying the fourth key theme as a combination of schedule and timing, DiMarco explained. “We don’t want to take forever to develop and field this capability. We’re still focused very much on a seven-year timeline to get the production vehicle ‘out the door.’”
He added that the final major theme encompassed discussion addressing “if we had given industry too many constraints and essentially previously gave them an RFP that treated every requirement as equal and ended up giving us something that was unobtainable in the time, unattainable in terms of affordability and potentially unattainable from a technology perspective. So the theme really is about opening up trade space – given schedule and affordability – opening up the trade space from a requirement perspective to allow industry more flexibility as part of the proposal for the TD phase but also the execution of the TD [Technology Development] phase and then as we move into the EMD [Engineering and Manufacturing Development] phase to firm up feedback to myself, TRADOC, and others as we take the draft CDD [Capabilities Development Document] that we have today and mature that to get that finalized and approved through the Army’s AROC [Army Requirements Oversight Council], and ultimately the JROC [Joint Requirements Oversight Council], in preparation for Milestone B [marking transition from TD to EMD phases].
Current program plans call for the release of the “revised” RFP around the end of October, with “up to three” contractor awards for the TD phase, down-selection to possibly two for the EMD phase, and then likely one for the production phase.
“In terms of timing of the RFP, I know that the Army leadership had indicated in and around when we canceled back in August [Aug. 25] that we were going to aim for about 60 days from the cancellation to get a new RFP on the street,” DiMarco concluded. “We’re still aiming for that, but the caveat is what I don’t want to do is push something out on the street that isn’t quite right.”