While the U.S. Army and Marine Corps’ next-generation light tactical and ground combat vehicles suck up the majority of ink in the defense press, another significant vehicle replacement program is inching closer to becoming a formal program, according to Army officials.
The Army is “close to solidifying the acquisition strategy and releasing the draft RFP [request for proposals] to industry” for the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV), envisioned as the replacement for the 50-year-old M113 in the service’s heavy brigade combat teams, said Ashley Givens, spokeswoman for the Army’s Ground Combat Systems office.
The AMPV’s analysis of alternatives was completed in June and is still being staffed, Givens said.
She added, however, that program managers will host a second industry day in November, with the final RFP coming in the second quarter of fiscal 2013.
While relatively few details of the system’s requirements have been made public — other than that the Army is looking to buy up to 3,800 mature, proven systems — Givens said “some level of system commonality” between mission variants and with other fielded Army systems will be one key requirement.
Army leadership also appears to be making sure everyone is marching in the same direction. Givens added that to ensure synchronization between program offices, the Ground Combat Systems shop is working with many of the project manager offices “that have capabilities that the AMPV will host. The most recent engagement was with [Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical] at Aberdeen to ensure we are fully coordinated and ready to accept and integrate network items on the AMPV at appropriate program timelines.”
The two main competitors poised to square off for the work are BAE Systems and General Dynamics Land Systems, which have said they’re interested in offering versions of the Bradley fighting vehicle and the Stryker, respectively.
Donald Kotchman, vice president for Heavy Brigade Combat Team at GD Land Systems, said the company has developed a tracked version of the Stryker that builds upon the company’s decades of work producing the Abrams tank, as well as the more recent double-V-hulled Stryker. While the tracked version is not aimed specifically at the AMPV program, Kotchman said that “depending on how the requirements flow for the AMPV, then it would be finalized to be in that competition.”
The “Stryker TR” was designed to fill a gap in the company’s combat vehicle line, Kotchman said, since it had not offered a medium tracked vehicle up to this point.
Roy Perkins, business director of Army programs at BAE Systems, said the company has had a Bradley prototype for the AMPV ready for two years and that the company could use some of the 1,300 to 1,700 excess Bradleys in the Army’s inventory to retrofit for the program.
“Because of the maturity of what we’ve been working, we think we’re the only company that can economically offer an AMPV,” he said, since the company could forgo any big startup costs by using its Bradley line at York, Pa., for the new work.