By C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (Dec. 02, 2010) -- Force protection against a classified list of threats, a nine-Soldier capacity, full-spectrum-operations capability and on-time delivery within seven years are among the "big four" imperatives the Army has spelled out for those hoping to be selected to build the Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV).
The Army took the next step toward providing a ground combat vehicle for infantry Soldiers, Nov. 30, when it issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the project. Industry has until Jan. 21 to submit proposals.
The four imperatives, said Col. Andrew DiMarco, program manager for Ground Combat Vehicle, are "non-negotiable."
"The vehicle has to be capable of carrying the nine-Soldier squad," he said. "And then on full spectrum, we have a series of growth requirements and we have some open architecture requirements that are non-negotiable."
While the GCV program is expected to eventually produce multiple vehicles with varying capabilities, the focus for the first block of GCV development is an infantry combat vehicle.
Also in the RFP are affordability targets for the GCV. Among those are a per-unit cost for the vehicle between $9 and $10.5 million. Also a cost target is an operation and sustainment cost of $200 per operational mile. Both sets of numbers are in fiscal year 2010 dollars.
Not in the RFP: requirements spelling out how the GCV moves along the ground.
"I have no requirement that says track or wheel," said Michael N. Smith, director of the Army Maneuver Center of Excellence, who added that a "track vs. wheel is a specious discussion."
Smith did say there are requirements in the RFP to fit the GCV on a C-17, but not onto a C-130.
It's expected that by April 2011, the Army will reach milestone decision A on the GCV and will award Technology-Development (TD) contracts to three contractors. The TD phase of development lasts 24 months. The early prototype vehicle is expected by the middle of fiscal year 2014, and the first full-up prototype is expected by the beginning of fiscal year 2016.
DiMarco said the Army has initially planned for 1,874 GCVs. The first production GCV should roll off the assembly line in early April 2018, seven years from the award of the TD-phase contracts. The first unit should be equipped with GCVs in 2019, he said.
After the Manned Ground Vehicle component was cut from the Army's Future Combat Systems program in June of 2009, the Army moved quickly to develop a new vehicle -- the Ground Combat Vehicle. The program previously released an RFP in February of 2010, but that RFP was ultimately canceled in August. The RFP released Nov. 30 is the replacement.