By C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (Feb. 28, 2012) -- Industry bidders will respond March 13 to the most recent government request for solutions to modernize the light tactical vehicle fleet -- and they don't need any more time than that to do so, because they are prepared now.
"Industry, they don't need another two years to design this vehicle," said Col. Dave Bassett, the project manager for Army tactical vehicles. "They are ready now to respond with mature designs to our solicitation."
Bassett, along with Kevin M. Fahey, the Army's program executive officer for combat support and combat service support, spoke Feb. 23 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., during a media opportunity at the Association of the U.S. Army's Institute of Land Warfare's Winter Symposium and Exposition Feb. 23.
"I have not seen substantial pressure to slow this program down," Bassett said. "The feedback we have got from industry confirmed we have folks prepared to bid mature designs now."
Fahey agreed. He said that industry is ready to present their options for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, or JLTV, and that the Army and Marine Corps program is structured as-is with current budget considerations in mind.
"One of the number one things is keep it focused, and from an Army and Marine Corps perspective, the program now as structured and the schedule we [are] on is also consistent with our fiscal constraints on how we are going to fund the capability we need over time."
The Army released the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle engineering and manufacturing development phase request for proposal, known as an RFP, Jan. 26. Industry has until March 13 to respond.
Bassett said in the JLTV technology development phase, the program received criticism because it was changing requirements and the schedule was slipping, but he said the TD phase "did exactly what it was intended to do, which is it gave us an opportunity to learn about our requirements, and learn the relationships between those requirements and costs."
It also allowed the Army to focus on the capability gaps that had to be satisfied by the JLTV -- protected mobility and restoring capability that was lost by having added armor to the Humvee.
"We came out of that with an industrial base that had learned a lot and had benefited from a round of competitive prototyping," he said. Having built prototypes, he said, industry learned key capabilities of the vehicle and also learned of the challenges of developing the JLTV. "They came out a whole lot better prepared to make the adjustments and requirements necessary to end up with the program that we have an RFP out on the street for today."
HUMVEE WAY AHEAD
The latest budget proposal has not provided funding for the "Modernized Expanded Capability Vehicle" program, or MECV program. The MECV program was to modernize the Humvee.
Fahey said, however, that the Humvee is still suitable to do its mission -- many of those missions inside the United States. There will be a "sustainment program for the HUMVEE fleet for the foreseeable future," he said, that includes less a of a focus on survivability of the Humvee fleet, and more on cost effectiveness and fuel efficiency. "We're going to be sustaining that fleet for quite a while, there will be times in its life it has to go back to the depots for some kind of reset."