CORRECTED – OFFICIAL-U.S. Army revamps rules for vehicle competition

(Army corrects first name of official in charge of vehicle
program to Andrew from Anthony)

* Up to three contract awards expected next April

* Top Army, Pentagon officials back changes

* Big focus on affordability, flexibility

WASHINGTON, Nov 30 (BestGrowthStock) – The U.S. Army on Tuesday
released new rules for companies competing to build a
next-generation ground combat vehicle and said it hoped to
award up to three contracts valued at up to $450 million next
April.

Army officials said they had substantially revamped the
requirements for the new vehicle to increase the focus on
affordability and flexibility, after abruptly canceling the
previous competition in late August.

Colonel Andrew DiMarco, the Army’s program manager for the
vehicle, said he could not guarantee there would be no further
changes to the rules, but said he was confident the plan had
the approval of top Army and Pentagon acquisition officials.

Companies bidding for the work must submit proposals by
Jan. 21.

The prime contractors expected to bid are Science
Applications International Corp [SAICI.UL], Britain’s BAE
Systems Plc (BAES.L: ) and General Dynamics Corp (GD.N: ).
Subcontractors of those companies include many of the largest
U.S. defense contractors, such as Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N: ),
Boeing Co (BA.N: ) and Raytheon Co (RTN.N: ).

DiMarco said the Army expects to award up to three
technology-development contracts, under a fixed-price model
with incentives, in April. Companies would get 20 percent of
any money saved if they beat their budget.

Current plans call for eventual construction of 1,874 of
the new vehicles, beginning in seven years, with the Army
planning to whittle the field down to one winning design in
about six years, DiMarco told reporters on a teleconference.

The new vehicle will be the centerpiece of the Army’s
combat vehicle modernization strategy. The revised request for
proposals sets a clear affordability cost target of $9 million
to $10.5 million to produce each vehicle.

The Army also set a goal for the life-cycle cost of the
vehicle of $200 per operating hour, which compares to more than
$100 per hour for each Bradley fighting vehicle now used, and
about $300 per hour for each Abrams tank.

The revamped rules lay out the Army’s top priorities in
terms of capabilities, including the ability to carry nine
soldiers safely to the battlefield and the ability to defend
against threats from the top, side and bottom.

But they also give contractors more leeway to make
tradeoffs among other capabilities as they design an affordable
new weapon, DiMarco said.

The idea is to use as much mature technology as possible,
and to ensure competition and construction of full vehicle
prototypes all the way through the engineering and design
phase, he said.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa; editing by John Wallace)

CORRECTED – OFFICIAL-U.S. Army revamps rules for vehicle competition