WASHINGTON, Aug. 18, 2011 -- The Army announced today the award of contracts to BAE Systems Land and Armaments, L.P., of Troy, Mich., for $449.9 million, and General Dynamics Land Systems, Inc., of Sterling Heights, Mich., for $439.7 million, for the Ground Combat Vehicle program technology development phase.These contractors have been selected to develop competitive, affordable and executable designs for a new Army Infantry Fighting Vehicle, or IFV, over the next 24 months.The contract awards follow the Department of Defense's formal approval of the Ground Combat Vehicle, or GCV, program to enter the technology development phase. Approval of this first major milestone builds on months of ongoing collaboration between the Army and the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, to successfully develop, build and field an affordable, effective and suitable IFV."The Army enthusiastically welcomes the formal launch of the Ground Combat Vehicle program, which will provide much needed protection and mobility to soldiers in combat," said Secretary of the Army John McHugh. "Given the economic environment the nation currently faces, the Army recognizes that it is imperative to continually address requirements as we build a versatile, yet affordable, next-generation infantry fighting vehicle."The department's GCV acquisition strategy, which emphasizes affordability and a seven-year schedule, calls for aggressive exploration of GCV IFV capabilities trade-space via continued requirements and affordability analysis during the 24-month technology development phase. As the Army finalizes GCV requirements during this phase of the formal acquisition process, these efforts will enable the Army to realize program schedule and affordability objectives.The Army remains committed to a seven-year schedule as the appropriate amount of time necessary to design, develop, build and test the next-generation infantry fighting vehicle.To develop a successful program with well-informed decision points at each major milestone, the Army will undertake a three-pronged approach during the first phase of this effort.First, contractors will work collaboratively with the Army to develop competitive, best-value engineering designs to meet critical Army needs. Concurrently, the Army will initiate an update to its GCV IFV analysis of alternatives and conduct separate technical and operational assessment of existing non-developmental vehicles. Results from this assessment, along with contractors design efforts, will inform GCV requirements to support the next program milestone and facilitate a full and open competition for the next phase of the GCV program."This is an important milestone in our Army's modernization program. GCV is the first combat vehicle designed from inception for an IED (improvised explosive device) environment. It will provide armor protection and the capability to maneuver cross-country with the nine-man infantry squad," said Army Chief of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey.The Army's overall strategy for developing GCV is consistent with efforts to implement acquisition reform and best acquisition practices.