U.S. military chooses competitors to design replacement for infantry fighting vehicles

WASHINGTON – The U.S. military has chosen five teams to compete against each other to design the replacement for its Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle.

Point Blank Enterprises, Oshkosh Defense, BAE Systems, General Dynamics Land Systems and American Rheinmetall Vehicles will all design raw digital concepts for the optional crewed combat vehicle, the military said on July 23.

The total value of the five contract award is approximately $ 299.4 million.

Oshkosh will work with South Korea’s leading defense firm Hanwha as a partner, according to previous coverage, and Rheinmetall’s team also includes Raytheon Technologies, Textron, and L3Harris Technologies.

Miami-based Point Blank is the only non-traditional business or small business to ever win a contract. Mettle Ops, a small Michigan-based family business, had also submitted a bid to design an OMFV concept, and Roush Defense reportedly bid as well.

About a year and a half ago, the Army, in its first attempt to hold a competition to replace Bradley, only received one sample of GDLS physical offer before the deadline set in October 2019. Defense News reported that the only other entry – the Lynx 41 from a team from Rheinmetall and Raytheon – was disqualified because it was not delivered on time to Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.

But the writing was already on the wall that the development schedule and OMFV requirements had doomed the program when BAE Systems, which makes the Bradley, pulled out of the competition months before the deadline.

Instead of going forward with just one option, the military canceled its OMFV competition and stepped back to come up with a plan that would better foster strong competition in a more reasonable timeframe.

The Army not only abandoned the plan to require a physical supply sample initially, but instead defined a five-phase effort that begins with an initial design phase and then moves on to a detailed design phase. followed by prototyping, testing and production.

These designs will inform the Abbreviated Concept Development Document (A-CDD) which is expected to be released in the first quarter of fiscal 2022.

And instead of asking for designs as part of the first phase of the competition, the military asked how companies would approach design development for an OMFV.

The service plans to spend $ 4.6 billion from FY2022 to FY26 for OMFV, so it looks earlier and more than ever to the industry’s contribution.

“All stages from now until the start of phase three [detailed design phase], which is a year away, aim to add granularity, to inform the requirements process, so that we can put it in the hands of procurement professionals and procurement professionals and we can write a [request for proposals] next year with really solid and realistic goals and requirements, ”Maj. Gen. Ross Coffman, the Army’s next-generation combat vehicle efforts, told reporters in a briefing just before the start of the year. announcement of contracts.

Over the next 15 months, the teams will take their initial concepts, share them with the government, and “start a back-and-forth dialogue between what we see as a value in their concepts,” Brig. General Glenn Dean, program manager for ground combat systems, said during the briefing.

“Some of these steps will be to subject their concepts to modeling and simulation to demonstrate some of the business value of some of these ideas. We, the government, will refine the requirements and specifications, pass them on to industry so that they can update their concepts and repeat this cycle. There will be at least two cycles of requirements and specification updates with industry prior to the conclusion of the design phase, at which point we expect suppliers to have very refined concepts and be ready for release. actual design.

After the design phase, the Army will move on to a detailed design phase, through another all-around and open competition, which will be run during FY23 and FY24. Up to three contracts are expected to be awarded in the second quarter of fiscal 23.

The prototyping phase will begin in FY25 and vehicle testing will begin in FY26 and end the following year with a production decision slated for the fourth quarter of FY27. Full production is expected to begin in the second quarter of FY30.

Along with the design phase, the Army will develop an open architecture for the OMFV.

Open Architecture has risen to the top of the list of required capabilities of the OMFV Planner, especially after seeing the need to be networked with other capabilities on the battlefield and at the forefront of Project Convergence in Yuma Proving Grounds, Arizona during the summer.

The military created a voluntary consortium in January 2021 that will represent industry, government and academia, to develop such an open architecture.

“We’ve shared our initial set of standards for modular open system architecture” with the industry, Dean said, “where they provide us with feedback, and we repeat that. This will end midway through this design phase so that these final standards can be incorporated into the design concepts that contractors complete. “

Overall, to choose the winning teams, the military evaluated the competition bidders on how they intended to take the features and turn them into specific requirements and specifications to evolve the preliminary concepts, Dean said.

“They might have a concept in mind that they used as a benchmark for this approach,” Dean said, but the military was really trying to assess how they would use tools to take a large set of requirements, narrow them down. details, understand what it means and compromise.

Proposals were to show how the military could use their concepts and validate data through modeling and simulation that shows potential designs are more than just slide show presentations and sketches, but could become a work vehicle, Dean said.

The military also evaluated experience with modular open systems architecture, he said. Bidders were to provide examples where they had applied it. “And we actually gave them a specific set of issues that said how to take a modular system approach and build capacity around a platform,” Dean said.

The evaluation of these approaches, he added, was “indicative of the level of experience, level of understanding and use of the approaches and were they going to have approaches that ultimately wouldn’t allow us to be as open in terms of the use of intellectual property or as modular as we would like? “

The military also factored in the prices offered and set a cap on bids to ensure it could award the maximum number of design contracts, according to Dean.

For now, the risk of failure in the program is low with a deep pool of teams developing concepts with great flexibility, according to Coffman.

Yet “a year from now we owe the joint force, the military, our nation and the industry really fine-tuned requirements,” he admitted, “and the greatest risk is to try to modify them once these decisions have been made.

“We have to make an informed decision, have a clear path to what is mature, which is not yet. We must be steadfast, we must be strong once we have made a decision on our needs. We’re not going to have another bite of this apple.

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