ARLINGTON, Va. (Oct. 5, 2010) -- Army leaders and program managers told roughly 300 members of industry that plans for the Ground Combat Vehicle will emphasize technological maturity, integration and affordability. They were speaking in broad terms about the anticipated Request for Proposal Oct. 1 at GCV Industry Day in Dearborn, Mich.
"The Ground Combat Vehicle remains the number-one overall priority within the Army's combat vehicle modernization strategy. By developing and fielding the Ground Combat Vehicle Infantry Fighting Vehicle, while executing the Army's combat vehicle modernization strategy, we will continue to modernize the Abrams, Stryker and remaining Bradley fleet," said Lt. Gen. Bill Phillips, principal military deputy to the assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology.
The Army plans to build a first-of-its kind, highly survivable Ground Combat Vehicle Infantry Fighting Vehicle, able to deliver a full nine-man squad into a full-spectrum combat environment under armor in an IED environment; the vehicle will be built from the ground up to withstand roadside bomb attacks, accommodate new technologies at they mature, maneuver quickly in a range of tactical environments and sustain unit integrity down to the squad level.
The concept for the GCV is designed to align with and accommodate the Army's "Operating Concept" which emphasizes wide-area security and decentralized, full-spectrum operations.
"The purpose of the GCV with protected mobility, firepower and maneuver is to deliver that squad to the battlefield and get a combined arms capability to the lowest level that we can. The squad operates at the tactical edge conducting decentralized operations," said Michael Smith, director of mounted requirements at the Manuever Center for Excellence, Fort Benning, Ga.
Development of the Ground Combat Vehicle be incremental and will embrace four main strategic priorities: Force Protection- aimed at protecting the crew from a range of threats to include IEDs; Capacity-aimed at delivering a full nine-man squad to the fight; Full-Spectrum development - aimed at pursuing incremental growth through an open technological architecture and modular armor; Timing-aimed at succeeding in delivering the GCV within seven years.
With this in mind, GCV program managers told industry leaders that the Army is improving upon and making changes to the previously cancelled RFP in order to streamline requirements, emphasize cost targets and place a premium on technological maturity and integration.
"Made at the earliest stage of the acquisition process, the decision to cancel the existing RFP was based upon the results of a comprehensive Army and Department of Defense review of the program, and is part of the Army's continuing efforts to ensure that all Army acquisitions effectively and affordably meet the needs of our Soldiers," Phillips said.
Affordability and timing are central to the Army's GCV strategy, service leaders said.
"We are going to factor life-cycle costs into the equation. We hope to develop and produce and affordable, feasible and operationally effective Infantry Fighting Vehicle in seven years," said Col. Andrew Dimarco, GCV project manger. "The RFP will focus on mature technologies and help us address schedule and cost goals."
The RFP will contain new specifications, Dimarco said.
"There are very precise capabilities that we are targeting to achieve. There are a lot of lessons learned from the fight in Iraq and the fight in Afghanistan. We've gained so much experience across the battlefield in various terrains," he explained. "We are looking at how best to balance cost, schedule and performance to give us an Infantry Fighting Vehicle that answers our needs and is still affordable."
The Army plans to award up to three contracts for a two-year Technology Demonstration phase designed to lower program risks through integrated prototyping, refining achievable requirements and soliciting feedback from industry. Part of the TD phase may include some subsystem prototyping, Army officials said.
The approach GCV development will be incremental, Dimarco said. Industry will be given the "trade space" and flexibility to find, develop and integrate material solutions to meet the requirements specified by the RFP. The incremental approach is designed in part so that the GCV can incorporate emerging technologies such as improved computer networks and lighter-weight armor composites.
"Future increments or blocks will be determined at a future point in time after assessing lessons learned and additional technologies," Dimarco said. "We are going to do a lot more work in the TD phase to flesh out the CCD (Capabilities Development Document). The maturation of requirements is part and parcel to what we are doing."
Also, consistent efforts to balance the technical solutions against a range of what the vehicle is likely to cost in 10 to 15 years are central to the developmental calculus.
The TD phase-which will include a Preliminary Design Review-- is designed to successfully bring the GCV into a four-year Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase which will award up to two contracts.
"The EMD phase is designed to get more test time under our belt-- along with additional time to get design feedback," Dimarco said.
The EMD phase will be followed by a production phase, the goal of which would be to award a single contract.