WASHINGTON — A competition to rapidly procure effective Mobile Protected Firepower for infantry brigade combat teams is about to officially kick off when the Army releases a request for proposals next month, the Army’s program executive officer for ground combat vehicles said.

Maj. Gen. David Bassett told Defense News in an interview at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual convention that vendors are working aggressively to get ready for the competition which is apparent on the showroom floor.

“That only happens when we communicate clearly with industry, which our chief has done, gotten feedback on requirements to move out quickly,” Bassett said.

The Army issued several draft RFPs to industry to make clear what it is looking for from base requirements to objective features.

Proposals are due in March and bid samples are due April 1.

The plan is to evaluate bid samples next spring, Bassett said, and following the evaluations, an engineering manufacturing and development contract will be awarded to two contractors.

The method of downselecting to two contractors that will build prototypes for the Army in the EMD phase is “leveraging that [Joint Light Tactical Vehicle]-like competitive environment for a very aggressive program as soon as we have [fiscal year 2019] dollars,” Bassett said.

The JLTV competition ended in a contract award to one vehicle at the end of the EMD phase. It is said the procurement methods will be used as a model for future Army procurement.

The Army also decided to skip the development phase in favor of commercially ready vehicle options.

The requirement for MPF to provide infantry brigade combat teams a protected, long-range, cyber resilient, precision, direct-fire capability for early or forcible entry operations was first laid out in the Army’s combat vehicle modernization strategy released in October 2015.

Industry is also coming out at AUSA to talk about MPF offerings.

SAIC is partnering with ST Kinetics and CMI to offer up an MPF solution.

The company — which is also competing for a Marine Corps contract to build the Amphibious Combat Vehicle — will integrate CMI Defence’s Cockerill Series 3105 turret, currently in production, onto an ST Kinetics Next Generation Armored Fighting Vehicle chassis, said Jim Scanlon, SAIC’s senior vice president and general manager of the defense systems group.

BAE Systems is offering an M8 Buford Armored Gun System with new capabilities and new modernized components, Mark Signorelli, the company’s vice president and general manager of combat vehicles, told Defense News.

The advantage of the M8 AGS is that it was designed specifically for the MPF mission, he said, it’s not something that was developed for something else and retooled.

The M8 AGS is rapidly deployable and well under the weight requirements the Army will likely lay out in its RFP. A total of three of the systems can fit in a C-17 in combat operations and four in emergency transport scenarios, Signorelli added.

General Dynamics Land Systems is also planning to respond with solutions “that meet the Army‘s goal for a cost-effective and powerful answer for MPF,” the company said in a statement. R equests for comment at AUSA from GLDS on more details regarding its offering could not be answered.