WARREN, Mich. -- The U.S. Army issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase of its Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) program. To maximize competition, the Army anticipates awarding up to two contracts for the EMD phase in early Fiscal Year 2019.

The MPF capability is one of the most critical needs for the Army, particularly for its Infantry Brigade Combat Teams (IBCT) who lack protected, long range, cyber resilient precision direct fire capability for early entry operations. IBCTs require this capability to be employed in austere and unpredictable locations allowing them to avoid the enemy's strengths and rapidly transition to offensive operations and exploit the initiative.

"From the very start of the program, the Chief of Staff of the Army recognized the capability gap inherent in our current IBCT Force Structure for a platform to deliver mobile precision fires in support of the Infantry on the battlefields of the 21st Century," said Maj. Gen. David Bassett, program executive officer for Ground Combat Systems.

The Army is instituting an innovative acquisition approach for MPF due to its urgent need. Starting with requirements generation, the Army has involved industry early and often in order to get the right set of capabilities, at the right cost and on time, as rapidly as possible.

"This effort illustrates how we are doing acquisition differently," said Bassett. "We engaged industry early to get the requirements right and the Chief has been personally involved in setting and prioritizing requirements."

Through constant dialogue, the Army was able to determine what industry is capable of and adjust requirements to best insure success for the effort.

"We shared our draft capability development document at an unprecedented early time," said David Dopp, the Army's project lead for MPF. "We've had constant, positive industry engagement including one-on-one sessions with Industry and top Army leadership."

"The Chief also challenged industry, through various engagements, to think outside the box and see how they can meet our requirements in a more efficient manner to provide the Soldier this critical capability," added Bassett.

Since then, industry has responded by investing their Independent Research and Development (IRAD) funds to bring the potential designs to a level of readiness rarely, if ever, seen when procuring a new and highly complex combat platform.

"This commitment by industry to help the Army deliver this capability quickly is the direct result of our senior leaders' commitment to the program and personal involvement with requirements." said Bassett.

The Army expects to take delivery of industry prototypes within 14 months after the FY19 contract award, and will get them into the hands of an evaluation unit four months after delivery.

As pointed out in the Army's 2015 Combat Vehicle Modernization Strategy, the lack of mobile protected firepower capability leads to IBCTs needing reinforcement from heavier Army elements and restricts the ability to move quickly and attack from multiple directions.

"At this time, there is currently no combat vehicle platform providing a mobile, protected, direct, offensive fire capability, and the army is committed to delivering MPF rapidly," said Dopp.