CAPITOL HILL: There’s a new chairman in town on the HASC’s powerful tactical air and land forces subcommittee, the sometimes fiery Michael Turner of Ohio, and he’s got his sights set on right on the Army and the Defense Department’s industrial base practices.
Turner, best known as a vigorous advocate for missile defense and his attention to detail on national systems governed by the strategic forces subcommittee he ran until this last election, made clear to reporters this afternoon that he’s closely watching the Army’s oft-botched acquisition efforts — especially the controversial Ground Combat Vehicle. Keep reading →
BAE Systems and General Dynamics, the companies developing the Army’s new Ground Combat Vehicle, struck back at the Congressional Budget Office over a CBO report arguing the GCV would be inferior to the German Puma troop carrier. The contractors’ essential argument: CBO based its scoring on an out-of-date concept for what GCV would be, and the prototypes now in development are a lot better.
“CBO stated they are using ‘GCV Concept after Trades’ from the original Army AoA (Analysis of Alternatives) delivered in March, 2011. This might account for the poor qualities given the GCV in the study,” General Dynamics Land Systems spokesman Pete Keating told Breaking Defense this morning. “The GCV requirements today and the two contractor offers are significantly different vehicles from the Army conceptual vehicles in the 2011 AoA.” Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: After 53 years in service, the Army’s M113 armored transport might finally get replaced. Last night, the Michigan-based Tank-Automotive Command (TACOM) issued a draft Request For Proposals for a new Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle. The final RFP is expected in June and the contract award in mid-2014. Variants of the General Dynamics Stryker and the BAE Bradley are the leading contenders. Our industry sources are still poring over thousands of pages of documentation, but here are the highlights.
The bottom line: almost $1.5 billion for over 300 vehicles — for a start. The RFP proposes a $1.46 billion contract in two phases: design, develop, and build 29 prototypes over four years — the $388 million engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase, 2014 through 2017; and then build up to 289 production models over three years — the $1.08 billion low-rate initial production (LRIP) phase, 2018-2020. Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: A $140 million congressional plus-up to the Army’s Bradley fighting vehicle program has made it past every legislative hurdle into the spending bill now headed for the Senate floor. But with amendments and House-Senate conference still to go, and with the Army still (at least officially) unenthused about the unrequested funds, Bradley manufacturer BAE is leaving nothing to chance and has launched a major campaign online, in the media, and on the Hill to ensure all goes well.
Looking ahead, the total 2013 Bradley bill of $248 million — half from the Pentagon’s initial request, half added by Congress — is just the down payment to keep BAE’s York, Penn. plant running until the Army starts building new armored vehicles circa 2017. While a quarter-billion a year is relatively modest in a Pentagon context, it’s scarce funds that the Army is reluctant to spend in the current budget crisis — even though it may cost more in the long term to shut York down only to reopen it three years later. Keep reading →
America’s Army has developed a bit of a split personality of late. On the one hand, the top brass has very publicly embraced the administration’s January 2012 strategic guidance that emphasizes “innovative, low-cost, and small-footprint approaches” and “building partner capacity” in lieu of large ground force deployments. Leaders from Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno on down talk up the Army’s capabilities in cyberspace, missile defense, seaborne operations, and small advisor teams.
At the same time, the service’s biggest new weapons program remains the controversial Ground Combat Vehicle, an estimated $34 billion program to build what could be 70-ton-plus behemoths optimized for all-out land war. “Low-cost” and “small-footprint” it ain’t. (“Innovative” it may be; read on). And GCV is just the tip of the armored iceberg. Keep reading →
In the aftermath of the EADS-BAE merger being called off, speculation continues about the outlook for defense merger and acquisition (M&A) activity – andwhat impact that will have on government and suppliers.
What may weigh more than an M1 Abrams tank and carry 12 soldiers? The Army’s Ground Combat Vehicle. New weight estimates for GCV, released this week by the Congressional Budget Office, will likely go over like a lead ballon with the program’s critics in Congress and in the Army itself.
Depending on the model and add-on armor package, an M1 weighs 60 to 75.5 tons. According to the CBO report, the General Dynamics design for the GCV weighs 64 to 70 tons. BAE s proposal is still heavier, at 70 to 84. Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: The overall balance of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees will shift little in the 113th Congress, but individual causes and companies have lost important advocates as individual legislators went down to defeat.
This may have been a banner year for incumbents– as most years are — but the House Armed Services Committee still took a hit. Depending on the final tallies, as many as eight HASC members — five Democrats and three Republicans, including prominent Tea Party favorite Allen West — may have lost their seats yesterday. Keep reading →
AUSA: BAE has had plenty on its plate lately, what with the failed merger with EADS and all. But at least BAE’s American division was the odds-on favorite for the Army’s Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV). That is, at least until last week. That’s when rival General Dynamics debuted a tracked version of its 8×8 wheeled Stryker at the Association of the US Army conference in Washington, DC.
The backstory: For decades, BAE and General Dynamics had pretty much split the US combat vehicle market. General Dynamics built the massive M1 Abrams main battle tank at its plant in Lima, Ohio, while BAE built the smaller but tank-like M2 Bradley troop carrier (technically, an “infantry fighting vehicle”) and its various variants in York, Penn. Production of new vehicles ceased years ago, but there’s a thriving business in upgrades, especially improved armor and electronics. Both firms worked on developing new vehicles for the Army’s Future Combat Systems program; when FCS failed, they both got contracts to build dueling prototypes for the Ground Combat Vehicle, a better-protected replacement for the Bradley, although the Army is now under some pressure to cut the competition short and pick a winner soon. Keep reading →
AUSA: Last month’s Association of the US Army conference in Washington was a chance for contractors to show off their biggest programs, and they don’t get much bigger than the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, a $15 billion-plus program to replace the Humvee.
But for one of the three companies competing to build the JLTV, the program is in fact relatively small. That would be Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest defense contractor, best known for high-tech and high-cost programs like spy satellites, the F-22 Raptor, and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Lockheed does work on some ground vehicles, and its JLTV partner BAE builds even more, but they’re hardly central to Lockheed’s business. Keep reading →