WASHINGTON — Germany’s Rheinmetall has a new subsidiary and it is planting its roots in the heart of American vehicle-manufacturing territory.

American Rheinmetall Vehicles (ARV) opened its new facility in the DC3S complex in Sterling Heights, Michigan, as it prepares to compete to replace the U.S. Army’s Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle with an optionally manned one, according to a May 10 company statement.

The company has been preparing to compete in the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) program for years, unveiling its Lynx 41 next-generation fighting vehicle in Paris, France, in the summer of 2018.

Rheinmetall then teamed with Raytheon to submit Lynx as its offering for OMFV in the fall of 2019, but was unable to deliver its prototype vehicle to the Army on time and was eliminated from the competition. Only General Dynamics Land Systems was able to get its bid sample in by the deadline.

With only one competitor, the Army canceled the program and embarked on a fresh attempt with a different strategy: One that has a digital design phase in order to refine characteristics needed in a future vehicle ahead of bending any metal.

Rheinmetall remains locked in with Raytheon, but has added Textron and L3Harris to the team as well. Bids were due last month.

The company is competing with other major prime contractors like GDLS, incumbent BAE Systems and a team of Oshkosh Defense and South Korean defense firm Hanwha as well as smaller or non-traditional businesses like Mettle Ops and Point Blank Enterprises.

The Army is expected to choose up to five prime contractor teams this summer to design rough digital prototypes. The Army will award up to three contracts for a detailed design and prototype phase that will include options for low-rate initial production. The service will select one vendor to go into production.

ARV is expanding by almost 28,000 square feet with room for over 30 team members that will support the OMFV offering, the statement reads.

The facility includes two high bay areas that will be used for a hardware and software integration lab and a prototype build area “as the program progresses,” according to the statement.

“Driven by strong and consistent growth, this early investment initiative demonstrates ARV’s commitment to the OMFV program and the U.S. Army,” the statement notes.

“The investments we are making in our operations are a strong reflection of American Rheinmetall Vehicle’s position in the marketplace and positive outlook for the future,” Matt Warnick, ARV’s Managing Director, said in the statement. “I’m excited that our team and new facility are well-positioned to fully support the Lynx OMFV offering and look forward to continuing to change the landscape of the U.S. defense industrial base by introducing next-generation manufacturing capabilities and creating new, quality U.S. jobs.”

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.

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