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Building the Perfect Beast

Industry responses to that request for information paved the way for a solicitation to acquire M-ATV, with the government overview explaining, “The U.S. Department of Defense plans to acquire M-ATVs in support of an approved Joint Urgent Operational Needs Statement (JUONS). The acquisition strategy and planned Request For Proposal (RFP) take into account responses to a Request for Information/Market Survey dated 21 August 2008. The M-ATV requires effective force protection and mobility performance for off-road missions.”

Concrete acquisition plans were released in mid-November 2008, describing the M-ATV as “a lighter, off-road, and more maneuverable vehicle that incorporates current MRAP-level protection. The M-ATV will require effectiveness in an off-road mission profile. The vehicle will include EFP [explosively formed penetrator] and RPG [rocket-propelled grenade] protection [integral or removable kit]. The M-ATV will maximize both protection levels and off-road mobility and maneuverability attributes, and must balance the effects of size and weight while attempting to achieve the stated requirements. The M-ATV acquisition is being conducted under the authority of the Joint MRAP Vehicle Program. An NDI [non-developmental item] solution for the M-ATV is sought; we are responding to a Joint Urgent Operational Needs Statement (UONS).”

It continued, “Offerors must be prepared to timely deliver five test vehicles. The government will purchase (at approximately 90 days after RFP release) the first two of the five representative test vehicles from each offeror that passes the proposal entrance criteria. Following vehicle test and evaluation, approximately 120 days after RFP release, the government plans to award up to 5 IDIQ [indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity] contracts. Offerors whose proposals and vehicles pass the entrance criteria will be offered an opportunity to provide a final proposal revision prior to the award. Awardees must deliver the three additional test vehicles within three business days of contract award. At the completion of testing, the government plans to select from the IDIQ contractors a single M-ATV producer but may, at its discretion, place production orders with multiple IDIQ producers.

“There is a quantity range required from 372 to the most probable M-ATV production quantity of 2,080 up to a maximum of 10,000,” it added.

The formal RFP was issued in early December 2008 with initial industry responses submitted in early January.

On April 30, 2009, service representatives announced the award of the five M-ATV IDIQ contracts that had been outlined in earlier descriptions: Oshkosh Truck Corporation, BAE Global Tactical Systems, BAE U.S. Combat Systems, Navistar Defense, and Force Dynamics – a joint venture between Force Protection LLC and General Dynamics Land Systems. Under the IDIQ contracts, each awardee provided three more production-ready vehicles to undergo additional survivability and mobility testing.

While the government conducted additional survivability and mobility testing, several contractor teams continued to conduct and highlight their own parallel independent test efforts.

As an example, on June 18, 2009, Oshkosh Defense, a division of Oshkosh Corporation, announced that it was “on target to complete 10,000 miles of on- and off-road durability testing of its MRAP All Terrain Vehicle (M-ATV) at the Nevada Automotive Test Center, further proving the vehicle’s endurance through extended operations in challenging environments.”

Company representatives added, “Oshkosh Defense has already performed more than 7,500 miles of independent testing using its own time and resources to ensure the vehicle would be ready for operations on Afghanistan’s harsh terrain and to identify any possible enhancements that could be made. Rigorous testing is part of the Oshkosh standard process to make certain its vehicles are ready to withstand the demanding environments in which they operate.”

Whether coincidental or not, less than two weeks later, on June 30, 2009, the U.S. Department of Defense announced it had selected Oshkosh Corporation to supply M-ATVs to U.S. armed forces, with the initial delivery order from the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) Life Cycle Management Command (LCMC) for 2,244 M-ATVs valued at $1.05 billion.

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