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U.S. SOCOM Kicks Off Two New Vehicle Programs

Apr. 24, 2013 - 04:09PM   |  
By PAUL McLEARY   |   Comments
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WASHINGTON — Next month, U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) is scheduled to award a contract to one company for at least 1,300 ground mobility vehicles (GMVs) to replace its current fleet of aging GMVs.

SOCOM commander Adm. William McRaven confirmed the planned award while warning about his command’s spending on research and development during a hearing of the House Armed Services’ intelligence, emerging threats and capabilities subcommittee on April 17.

The GMV program is the planned replacement for the heavier Humvee variant being used by SOCOM, and according to budget documents released in April, they would start being fielded next year.

SOCOM’s fiscal 2014 budget request submitted April 10 calls for $24.7 million to purchase 101 vehicles in the coming year at $245,000 per vehicle. The three companies competing for the work, which is expected to produce about 200 vehicles a year for seven years, are General Dynamics, current GMV-maker AM General and Navistar International.

Requirements documents released last year call for a vehicle that weighs less than 7,000 pounds, has the ability to carry up to seven passengers and can be transportable in an M/CH-47 Chinook helicopter.

On April 5, SOCOM also released a request for proposal for what it is calling an internally transportable vehicle (ITV), which will be designed to fit in the back of a V-22 Osprey. While the specifications are classified, a draft solicitation released in June revealed that any submission must include two “critical flight mission payloads,” one at 1,000 pounds and another at 2,000 pounds, with a field-installable weapon station mount capable of fitting the M2 .50-caliber machine gun, the M240, the M249 squad automatic weapon, the MK-19 and the MK-47 Grenade Launcher.

SOCOM also requires the ITV to fit two passengers in addition to a driver, feature a removable gunner’s seat, be able to carry three to six casualty litters and have a crush-resistant roll cage.

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SOCOM wants designs capable of traveling 350 to 450 miles “at 45 mph on level paved roads using organic fuel tank(s), without refuel, and exclusive of onboard fuel storage cans,” while reaching top speeds of 65 to 75 mph.

Given the advanced electronic jamming and communication technologies that modern spec ops forces employ in austere environments, SOCOM requires that any submission be able to produce continuous electrical power — even with the engine off — to operate a manpack radio for four to 12 hours.

Even with these initiatives and several other big-ticket developmental items outlined in the 2014 budget, such as the $20 million requested to kick off a Precision Strike Package Large Caliber Gun program, which would build an upgraded version of the Precision Strike Package on AC-130J gunships, McRaven told lawmakers that his command’s research-and-development budget “is a little out of balance.” After 12 years of focus on readiness as a combat force, “our research ... has waned a little bit.”

McRaven said even though SOCOM takes up only 1.7 percent of the total Defense Department budget, “my expectation is that we will take some cuts” in coming years.

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