Massive government documents typically hide some gold nuggets of information. In today’s report from the Pentagon’s independent Director of Operational Test & Evaluation, a famously tough grader known as DOT&E, there’s one detail that is going to make defense contractor BAE Systems very happy: “Results from the third underbody blast test also demonstrate that the… Keep reading →
As storm clouds loom over the Army’s controversial Ground Combat Vehicle, both contractors competing for GCV say they’re focused on completing the program of record still on the books. But if the Army slows the program down – a near-certainty at this point – both BAE Systems and General Dynamics told me they are ready to adapt. In… Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: “It’s not his call,” the Army general said. The general was the Army’s director of strategy, plans, and policy, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Snow. “He” is the Vice-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. James Winnefeld, Snow’s superior by two stars and about three layers of bureaucracy. And “it”? “It” is all about how… Keep reading →
PARIS AIR SHOW: It is one of the hottest competitions for which there is not yet a formal Pentagon program. The Air Force’s next generation trainer — known as T-X — will be worth some $11 billion for some 350 planes. Lockheed Martin and the South Korean maker of the T-50 have teamed up to… Keep reading →
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 The contractors’ essential argument: CBO based its scoring on an out-of-date concept for what GCV would be, and the prototypes now in development are a lot better.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 →