By Katherine McIntire Peters
The Army on Tuesday asked industry to submit proposals for developing a new infantry fighting vehicle that could be used across the full spectrum of battlefield operations, from counterinsurgency to ground combat.
The request for proposals follows the August cancellation of a similar solicitation after Defense Department acquisition officials questioned the service's requirements and strategy for buying a new ground combat vehicle. Army leaders have struggled with the best way to fill the service's need for tactical vehicles after Defense Secretary Robert Gates scuttled that portion of the wide-ranging Future Combat Systems program last year.
"The Army and [Defense acquisition officials] have worked through this and are firmly committed to getting this kicked off," Col. Andrew DiMarco, ground combat vehicle project manager, said in a conference call with reporters.
Michael Smith, the official in charge of developing concepts and requirements for the vehicle, said the Army is looking for a vehicle that can be adapted "on the fly" to changing battlefield requirements and threats.
The infantry fighting vehicle must be able to carry nine soldiers and their gear, and it must have a modular armor system that can be tailored to specific situations, according to Smith.
The technical development phase will have full and open competition, DiMarco said, adding the Army could select up to three contractors for the initial award. To control costs, the Army has set a spending ceiling of $450 million for the development phase. Per unit manufacturing costs are to be between $9 million and $10.5 million with a life-cycle cost target of $200 per operating hour.
Proposals are due Jan. 21, 2011, and the Army expects to announce awards in April, said DiMarco.
The Army eventually plans to buy about 1,800 vehicles, he said.