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General Dynamics Land Systems is protesting the US Marine Corps' decision to award BAE Systems and SAIC contracts to build prototype vehicles for the service's next-generation Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV), Ralph White, one of the heads of Government Accountability Office's protest functions, told Defense News on Monday.

Lockheed Martin and Michigan-based Advanced Defense Vehicle Systems were also in the running to build the ACV. It is unknown whether either company plans to file a protest.

According to Frank St. John, Lockheed Martin's vice president of Tactical Missiles with the Missiles and Fire Control business, the Marine Corps de-briefed the company on its decision last week. He told Defense News in Orlando, Florida, that Lockheed was still considering its options.

White said GAO has 100 days — until March 16 — to make a decision regarding the protest.

The Marine Corps announced Nov. 24 it selected BAE and SAIC as finalists to build the ACV.

BAE's contract is for $103.8 million, while SAIC's is for $121.5 million. Each company will build 16 eight-wheeled vehicles to be tested over the next two years to replace the Marine Corps' aging Vietnam-era amphibious assault vehicle. The service will then pick a winner in 2018 to deliver 204 vehicles by 2020.

The initial contract covers building 13 vehicles due to available funding and then the Marine Corps will exercise options to build three more vehicles.

According to John Garner, Advanced Amphibious Assault program manager, some "subfactors" established in the request for proposals played out in the service's decision. Being able to operate well in water and on land were equal to requirements to carry personnel, as well as protection, he said, "so the intent was to balance the capabilities."

But he added, "We did have individual emphasis areas that would give extra credit, so to speak, all the other things being equal, and those emphasis areas were weighted toward the amphibious capabilities of the vehicle because there were some very capable ground vehicles out there, but fundamentally this vehicle has to be an amphibious vehicle."

The ACV 1.1 armored personnel carrier has been a long time coming and "will yield a balanced combination of performance protection and payload all at an affordable price," William Taylor, the Marine Corps' Land Systems program executive officer, told reporters prior to the award on Nov. 24.

"After a very rigorous and thorough evaluation of competitor proposals, the Marine Corps will be awarding contracts to companies who clearly offer the best value selections for the Marine Corps."

The winning companies will build the vehicles in 2016 and conduct "aggressive testing" in 2017 that will inform the Marine Corps' development of requirements for its next iteration of the vehicle — ACV 1.2 — according to Col. Roger Turner, director of the Marine Corps' Capabilities Development Directorate. The Marine Corps will be able to refine what ACV 1.2 will look like and then "we will move out with the remainder of the program once we know what details of ACV 1.1 will yield," he added.

Email: jjudson@defensenews.com

Twitter: @jenjudson

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