HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The U.S. Army expects to launch a competition for its next-generation combat vehicle by issuing a request for proposals by the end of the week, Brig. Gen. Ross Coffman, who is in charge of NGCV modernization, told Defense News in an interview ahead of the Association of the U.S. Army’s Global Force Symposium in Huntsville, Alabama.
The NGCV Cross-Functional Team, which serves under Army Futures Command, is tasked with developing a fleet of modern combat vehicles — both manned and unmanned — and it put together requirements in less than a year to start a competitive process to procure an optionally manned fighting vehicle, or OMFV, in 2026 to replace the Bradley Fighting Vehicle.
Replacing the Bradley fleet is the NGCV CFT’s top priority, Coffman said in an interview with Defense News last fall.
The OMFV is meant to “provide options to commanders in combat, so it’s a decision to, manned or unmanned, gain contact with the enemy, and that can be visual or through firepower, and it actually provides options to commanders so that they can use the best way to accomplish their mission,” he said at the time.
After working with industry through countless engagements and testing several draft RFPs with ambitious requirements, Coffman believes the Army has both the threshold requirements for the vehicle as well as the right objective requirements as the service heads toward the release of the final RFP.
“We put out a very aggressive draft RFP,” Coffman told reporters March 27 at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Global Force Symposium, because the CFT knew it was not obtainable in its entirety.
The draft RFP was meant to stretch goals and objectives and to inspire feedback to ultimately write requirements that are obtainable, Coffman explained.
Teasing out some of the requirements, Coffman said the Army’s threshold requirement is to procure a vehicle with a 30mm gun with an objective requirement of 50mm.
“We want the 50mm,” Coffman said, and industry can provide a gun that size, but since the service is moving so fast on the program, it was more realistic to shoot for a 30mm and ask industry to show a path to 50mm when responding with proposals.
The Army absolutely has to have a forward-looking infrared, or FLIR, capability that is “as good or better than what we have,” Coffman added, with an objective requirement to have the next-generation of night-sight capabilities. “We want to see the enemy before they see us, and we want to be able to engage the enemy before they engage us.”
This means the service is asking for a second-generation FLIR capability, but would like a third-generation one as an objective requirement.
“Industry understands that we are moving fast,” Coffman said, with a desire to get capability into the hands of soldiers as fast as possible. But “they also understand the first vehicle off the production line will have certain capabilities and, in future increments, will have increased capabilities, and so our plan to maintain currency with technology, I think, is encouraging to industry, but they also are well-aware that the timeline is fast and they have to deliver this, these vehicles with technology they have now.”
Proposals will be due this fall and the service plans to downselect to two competitors who will build 14 prototypes. The Army will likely take about 14 months to decide which offerings will move into the prototyping phase.
Coffman added that the Bradley has served the force well, “but it’s limited, so what I’m confident in is the vehicle that we are going to give our soldiers will be better than the Bradley and better than the enemy vehicles that we will engage and we will continue to push the envelope on new technologies."
“But if we wait for all of those new technologies to reach a level of maturation that can be integrated into a vehicle," he said, "we will never get started.”
Jen Judson is the land warfare reporter for Defense News. She has covered defense in the Washington area for 10 years. She was previously a reporter at Politico and Inside Defense. She won the National Press Club's best analytical reporting award in 2014 and was named the Defense Media Awards' best young defense journalist in 2018.