Wednesday, November 17, 2010

New GCV RFP Will Feature Tiered Approach

By Michael Fabey

The revamped request for proposals (RFP) for the U.S. Army’s Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) is “imminent” and will focus more on engineering and manufacturing and less on technology development while giving contractors the option of trading off some cost and capability elements for later increments, spokesman Paul Mehney says.

The Army canceled the original RFP for the $40 billion GCV program in late August in favor of crafting a new one that would “rely on mature technologies in order to reduce significant developmental risk over a seven-year schedule following the initial contract award,” the service said at the time. “The refined RFP will result in a vehicle that provides soldiers with critical armored protection in the modern combat environment” (Aerospace DAILY, Aug. 26).

The RFP contains four top priorities, Mehney tells AVIATION WEEK. The first is for the program to deliver a model tailored for force protection. The second is to begin production within seven years. The other two priorities for the GCV will be to guarantee capacity for a nine-man infantry squad and to operate in a full spectrum of missions .

The four priorities represent a significantly truncated capability set in comparison to the service’s initial vision. But the Army fears “contractors had been asked to include too many features – a problem that could delay fielding while raising costs,” Lexington Institute defense analyst Loren Thompson writes in a recent brief.

The new RFP will emphasize a three-tiered approach for contractors to design a vehicle that offers the Army the best mix of cost and capability in both early models and later increments, according to Mehney. The first tier, he says, will include the Army’s “must-have” capabilities that will leave little wiggle room for contractor compliance. Those capabilities will be spelled out in the RFP. The second tier will allow contractors to offer trade-offs in capabilities to reduce costs.

For third-tier requirements, Mehney says, contractors have the option to defer some of the capabilities until future increments, depending on affordability and the Army’s assessment of the contractor’s ability to deliver.

“This is a big change in the RFP,” Mehney says. The idea is to cut down on the technological risk, shorten technology development and increase the engineering and manufacturing phase to create more prototypes and get the vehicles into the field for use by soldiers as soon as possible.

The new RFP also will be setting a price cap of $9 million to $11.5 million per copy, Mehney says.

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