Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV)
The Army’s Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) program was intended to modernize the existing ground combat vehicle fleet, replacing a portion of the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles in inventory at a projected cost to develop and acquire of up to $40 billion. The GCV program was a successor to the planned manned component of the Future Combat Systems (FCS) program, which was cancelled in 2009. The GCV features were expected to include full spectrum capability, robust survivability, capacity for a nine-man squad, and room for growth. The GCV program was the product of an 120-day requirements analysis for a replacement program for the manned component of the FCS program and incorporated lessons learned from threats encountered during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Army expected to continue to leverage the work accomplished during the FCS Manned Ground Vehicle (MGV) development efforts into the new GCV.
The Army reviewed existing fighting vehicles across the force structure to determine whether to sustain, improve, divest, or pursue new vehicles based on operational value, capability shortfalls, and resource availability. Per Department of Defense direction, the Army also collaborated with the Marine Corps to identify capability gaps related to fighting vehicles following the cancellation of the FCS program. For development of a new GCV, the Army's preliminary plans indicated the use of an open architecture design to enable incremental improvements in modular armor; network architecture; and subcomponent size, weight, power, and cooling. The Department of Defense and the Army met in February 2010 to make a materiel development decision on the GCV, and the Army was subsequently authorized to release a request for proposals for GCV technology development. Over the next several months, the Army would be conducting an analysis of alternatives to assess potential materiel solutions for the GCV. The Army expected to follow the analysis with a Milestone A decision review on whether to begin technology development in September 2010. After Milestone A, Army officials were proposing the use of competitive prototyping with multiple contractors—the number of which would depend on available funding—during the technology development phase, which would feature the use of mature technologies and the fabrication and testing of prototype subsystems. In the technology development phase, the contractors would be expected to fabricate and evaluate several subsystem prototypes, including an automotive test rig and a mine blast test asset. The contractors would also be expected to develop a near-critical design review level design for their integrated vehicle and, in the process, inform the GCV concept development document. That document was expected to be finalized at the Milestone A decision point. Competitive prototypes would be fabricated and tested during the engineering and manufacturing development phase. A preliminary design review would be used to validate contractor readiness to enter detailed design at Milestone B in fiscal year 2013. The Army's preliminary plans indicated that the first production vehicles could be delivered in late FY17, about 7 years from Milestone A.
In February 2010, the Army issued a request for proposals for the technology development phase of the GCV before completing the required analysis of alternatives, citing schedule urgency. The RFP described a GCV that would be an Infantry Fighting Vehicle offering a highly-survivable platform for delivering a nine-man infantry squad to the battlefield. The GCV is the first vehicle that would be designed from the ground up to operate in an improvised explosive device (IED) environment. It was envisioned to have greater lethality and ballistic protection than a Bradley, greater IED and mine protection than an MRAP, and the cross country mobility of an Abrams tank. The GCV would be highly survivable, mobile and versatile, but the Army had not set specific requirements such as weight, instead allowing industry to propose the best solution to meet the requirements.
In May 2010, the Army convened a "Red Team" to assess the risk of achieving the GCV schedule. The Red Team issued its report in August 2010, citing major risk areas including schedule, technical maturity, and affordability of the system. The Army rescinded the original request for proposals and issued another in late 2010. The revised RFP for the GCV, released in November 2010, reduced the top-tier requirements by 75 percent compared with the original RFP released in February 2010.
At the time of the second RFP in November 2010, the milestone A decision was expected in April 2011, but this did not occur until August 2011. The Army's plan following the issue of the revised RFP retained a 7-year schedule from the expected approval of technology development start (Milestone A) in April 2011 to a first production vehicle delivered in 2018. The Army also planned to award up to 3 contracts for a 2-year Technology Demonstration phase designed to lower program risks through integrated prototyping, refining achievable requirements and soliciting feedback from industry. The Technology Development phase, which would include a Preliminary Design Review, was designed to successfully bring the GCV into a 4-year Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase, which would award up to 2 contracts. The Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase would be followed by a production phase, the goal of which would be to award a single contract. In August 2011, the Army awarded technology development contracts to 2 contractor teams. A third contractor team, led by SAIC, which had teamed with 3 large enterprises: Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, Rheinmetall Defence, and the Boeing Company, submitted a proposal, but did not receive a contract award and subsequently filed a bid protest with the Government Accountability Office that was still being considered as of October 2011.
The expectation was that the Army would build a first-of-its kind, highly survivable Ground Combat Vehicle Infantry Fighting Vehicle, able to deliver a full nine-man squad into a full-spectrum combat environment under armor in an IED environment. The vehicle would be built from the ground up to withstand roadside bomb attacks, accommodate new technologies at they mature, maneuver quickly in a range of tactical environments and sustain unit integrity down to the squad level. The concept for the GCV was designed to align with and accommodate the Army's "Operating Concept," which emphasizes wide-area security and decentralized, full-spectrum operations. Development of the Ground Combat Vehicle would be incremental and would embrace 4 main strategic priorities: Force Protection- aimed at protecting the crew from a range of threats to include IEDs; Capacity-aimed at delivering a full nine-man squad to the fight; Full-Spectrum development - aimed at pursuing incremental growth through an open technological architecture and modular armor; Timing-aimed at succeeding in delivering the GCV within seven years.
The Army had revised the requirements that the contractors had to meet for the second GCV solicitation by adopting a tiered and incremental acquisition strategy. Tier 1 requirements were features that the GCV had to provide in its initial version and that could not be deferred. Tier 2 contained features for which the bidder had to offer at least some capability in the vehicle's first version, even if the full requirement could not be met until later versions. Tier 3 had the lowest-priority features and could be deferred to a future version. The Army wanted the GCV to meet as many of the Tier 2 and Tier 3 requirements as possible, but while still meeting the cost target.
The Army's Tier 1 category had a total of 135 specific requirements. These were grouped into 4 broad categories: Protect the crew against a specified list of threats; carry the vehicle crew and an infantry squad of 9 soldiers and their equipment, including weapons, ammunition, supplies, food and water; be capable of operating in a wide range of conflict types by having 3 variable levels of protection according to the anticipated threat, an easily modified design that allows up to a 20 percent increase in vehicle weight, and upgradable software; and have the first production vehicle ready in seven years. To help achieve those goals the Army GCV program management insisted that only technologies and manufacturing processes at readiness level 6 should be used.
The Army's Tier 2 category had a total of 601 specific requirements, again broken into 4 broad categories: Mobility and lethality; vehicle survivability; all other specifications; and Government-provided equipment. Notable requirements in the first Tier 2 category included a primary weapon equal in capability to the existing M242 25mm cannon on the Bradley fighting vehicle (the integral anti-tank guided missile launcher on the Bradley series was made a tradeable option in the GCV requirements), transportability on a C-17 Globemaster aircraft instead of on a C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft, and the ability to operate extensively off road. The removal of the C-130 transportability requirement would allow for a base vehicle with a much greater weight. Modular armor packages for different threat levels was still expected to help keep vehicle weight low while meeting the protection requirements for MRAP-like protection against things like IEDs (including explosively formed penetrators) and mines, and basic protection against small arms and automatic cannon fire, and anti-tank guided missiles. Vehicle survivability requirements also required that the GCV have 2 ways to exit the vehicle in an emergency situation. For mobility, the GCV contractors were required to design for and test high road speed during the vehicle's development. The ability of a hybrid electrical drivetrain to sustain highway speeds, as proposed by the BAE-Northrop Grumman team, had not yet been demonstrated in an armored tactical vehicle by the end of 2012.
There are only 9 requirements in the Tier 3 category. Three of them related to operations in a nuclear environment, and the others were related to devices to blind the electro-optic sensors on enemy vehicles.
On 18 August 2011, the Department of Defense announced that BAE Systems Land and Armaments, L.P. of Troy, Michigan had been awarded a $449,964,969 fixed-price-incentive-fee contract for the technology development phase for the Army's Ground Combat Vehicle Infantry Fighting Vehicle. Work would be performed in Madison, Alabama; Detroit, Michigan; Waltham, Massachusetts; and Troy, Michigan, with an estimated completion date of 26 June 2013. General Dynamics Land Systems, Inc. of Sterling Heights, Michigan was also awarded a $439,715,950 fixed-price-incentive-fee contract for the technology development phase for the Army's Ground Combat Vehicle Infantry Fighting Vehicle. Work would be performed in Sterling Heights, Michigan; Dallas, Texas; Plano, Texas; Detroit, Michigan; and Taunton, Massachusetts, with an estimated completion date of 26 June 2013. Bids were solicited through the Internet with 3 bids received. US Army Contracting Command, Warren, Michigan was the contracting activity.
On 23 August 2011, the third team vying for the contract, a team effort by SAIC and Boeing, filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) contending there were errors in the evaluation process, claiming the government relied on evaluation criteria outside the published request for proposal and aspects of the team's bid were discounted because of a lack of familiarity with the German Puma infantry fighting vehicle that formed the basis of the SAIC-Boeing vehicle. Because of the protest, the General Dynamics and BAE Systems-Northrop Grumman teams were required to stop work until the protest was adjudicated.
While conducting the review of the GCV program in order to respond to the SAIC-Boeing protest, the GAO released a report on 26 October 2011, titled "Future Ground-Based Vehicles and Network Initiatives Face Development and Funding Challenges," in which it examined a number of programs, including the GCV. The GAO report said that Army's combat vehicle capability portfolio review had confirmed the need for GCV as a Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle replacement and the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics approved the GCV acquisition program. The Undersecretary agreed that the Army had a priority need for a GCV, but the number of caveats in the approval decision raised questions about the soundness of the Army's acquisition plans and time lines.
After initially bypassing completion of the analysis of alternatives process, the Army subsequently conducted an analysis of alternatives, but was directed by Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics to conduct more robust analyses, throughout the technology development phase, to include design and capability trades intended to reduce technical risks and GCV production costs. The Army was expected to include sensitivity analyses in the analysis of alternatives to explore trade-offs between specific capabilities and costs. These analyses would be supported by assessments of existing combat vehicles to determine whether they were adequate alternatives to a new vehicle, or whether some of the designs or capabilities of existing vehicles should be incorporated into a new GCV. Concurrently, the GCV contractor teams would conduct design trades and demonstrate technologies, the results of which would also be fed back into the analysis of alternatives updates.
The Army's plan to deliver the first production vehicles in 7 years also presented a significant risk according to the October 2011 GAO report. Since GCV was originally conceived in 2009, the Army had already reduced some requirements and encouraged interested contractors to use mature technologies in their proposals. However, the schedule remained ambitious and the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics has stipulated that the Army would need to demonstrate that the schedule was both feasible and executable. According to an independent Army program evaluator, the next 2 years of technology development would require many capability and requirements trades in order to better define an acceptable solution at the same time that technology risks for that solution were to be identified and mitigated. Concurrent activities could lead to poor results, calling into question whether the 7-year schedule was executable. The independent cost estimate submitted for the milestone A review featured higher GCV development costs with the assumption that the Army would need 9 or 10 years to complete the program, instead of the assumed 7 years.
Cost also continued to be a challenge, as the independent cost estimate was at least 30 percent higher than the Army's estimate for GCV procurement. This was in spite of the fact the Army had put in place caps for cost on various components of the proposed GCV. The Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics directed that continued program approval depended on the Army's ability to meet the $13 million procurement unit cost target. As for affordability, with the expectation that less funding would be available in coming years, the Army had made some trades within the combat vehicle portfolio. According to Army officials, the Army planned to proceed with GCV as planned, but several other combat vehicle programs, such as anticipated upgrades for the Bradley, Abrams, and Stryker vehicles, were being reshaped or delayed.
On 5 December 2011, GAO denied the SAIC-Boeing GCV protest, stating the Army’s award of only 2 technology development contracts was reasonable and consistent with the stated evaluation criteria and did not improperly favor the other 2 teams in the competition. On 6 December 2011, the Army lifted the stop-work order that had been placed on the General Dynamics and BAE Systems-Northrop Grumman teams so work could resume on the GCV. Reports suggested that the SAIC-Boeing GCV proposal was rejected by the Army primarily due to concerns over the vehicle’s proposed force protection features. The Army’s primary concern appeared to have been the vehicle’s proposed active protection system and the underbody armor designed to protect crewmembers from IEDs. As part of GAO’s examination of the protest, it was noted that the Army had identified 20 significant weaknesses and informed SAIC that it was "of utmost importance" for the firm to address them, and that a failure to do so adequately would result in SAIC's proposal being found ineligible for award. SAIC responded by indicating that the information was classified and was the property of the German Ministry of Defense (MOD). While SAIC and the German MOD offered potential solutions, the Army judged these as inadequate to address its concerns. There were also additional Army concerns, such as insufficient head clearance for crew members, problems with vehicle occupant seating, a risk of toxic fumes in the crew compartment due to battery pack location, and various hazards affecting a soldier’s ability to exit the rear of the GCV, all of which played a role in GAO's denial of SAIC's protest.
The Army's FY13 budget proposal, released in February 2012, included $640 million for continuing development of the Ground Combat Vehicle. A reported $1.3 billion had been saved from the budget by delaying development of the GCV, which had experienced contracting difficulties. The Army insisted that its number-one motorized priority remained the Ground Combat Vehicle, however, which leadership continued to evaluate. Aside from cost, existing requirements were that it have growth potential, be capable of carrying a squad of nine, and could be built within a 7 year time frame.
In mid-2012, Maneuver Battle Lab at Fort Benning, Georgia conducted a GCV assessment at Fort Bliss, Texas. The event was part of Army work being done to assess the best attributes of various vehicles in order to consolidate them into a design that could replace the Bradley Fighting Vehicle in the future. The nondevelopmental assessment was aimed at informing Army leaders about eventual requirements for a new Infantry fighting vehicle. Platoon-level operations were conducted on 5 different platforms at Fort Bliss: M2A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle, a Bradley vehicle without a turret, Double V-Hull Stryker, the Swedish CV9035, and the Israeli Namer. Each vehicle was evaluated for durability, capacity, modularity, lethality, interior space and operational capability. Initially the test at Fort Bliss was planned to take place at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The assessment at Fort Bliss was the second phase of a larger assessment that had involved assessments in Israel during the 2011-2012 winter, which involved a monthlong evaluation of the Israeli Namer, and when soldiers traveled to Denmark in March 2012 to work with the Swedish CV9035 vehicle.
On 6 November 2012, the Congressional Budget Office released a working paper based on 2 reports it had prepared to aid the Congress in its oversight of the GCV program. According to the CBO working paper, the US Army planned to spend about an additional $34 billion in 2013 dollars to develop and purchase the GCV. The GCV was supposed to operate across the full range of potential conflict types while providing unprecedented levels of protection for the full squad of soldiers it will carry. To achieve the Army’s goals, the GCV would weigh from 64 to 84 tons, making it the biggest and heaviest infantry fighting vehicle that the Army had ever fielded, as big as the M1 Abrams tank and twice as heavy as the Bradley, the Army's existing infantry fighting vehicle.
On 16 January 2013, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Frank Kendall issued an Acquisition Decision Memorandum and an accompanying information memorandum detailing major changes to the GCV program to "enable a more affordable and executable program." The major changes included extended the technology development phase by 6 months, permitting only a single contractor to proceed to the GCV's engineering, manufacturing, and development phase and postponing the program's Milestone C production decision until FY19, almost a year longer than the previously planned early FY18 Milestone C decision. There had been concerns expressed by some that designating only one engineering, manufacturing, and development contractor would eliminate cost savings from competition and extending the technology development phase by 6 months and the Milestone C decision by up to a year would add cost to the program.
On 17 January 2013, the US Army announced that it had modified the GCV acquisition strategy to further reduce risk and maintain an affordable program. Changes in the program extended the existing technology development phase by 6 months to allow industry greater time to refine vehicle designs. The extension to the technology development phase would provide contractors an additional 6 months to mature vehicle designs while the Army finalizes GCV requirements, prior to the upcoming milestone B decision. Milestone B marked the point where the GCV program would initiate critical design and testing activities in anticipation of vehicle production. The strategy also called for selection of a single vendor for the engineering, manufacturing development, and production phases of the program instead of the previously prescribed competition between 2 vendors during those phases to deal with the budgetary pressures expect over the fiscal 2014--2018 period. The Army revised the development strategy to ensure an affordable program that meets its critical needs for a new infantry fighting vehicle.
In April 2013, the Congressional Budget Office released a report on the GCV program and potential alternatives. The report posited a total of four alternatives: Upgrade the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle, purchase the Israeli Namer heavy armored personnel carrier, purchase the German Puma infantry fighting vehicle, or simply cancel the GCV program entirely. According to CBO, an upgraded Bradley IFV would be more lethal than the GCV against enemy forces and would probably allow soldiers and vehicles to survive combat at about the same rates as would the GCV. However, like existing vehicles, the upgraded Bradley would carry only seven passengers, 2 fewer than the Army's desired 9, and it would not be as mobile as the GCV. If the Army instead replaced existing Bradley IFVs with the Israeli Namer armored personnel carrier, soldiers and vehicles would probably survive combat at slightly higher rates than would be the case for the GCV. Moreover, the Namer, like the GCV, could carry a 9-member squad, although it would be less lethal and less mobile than the GCV. The Namer probably would be produced, at least in part, in the United States, but its fielding would nevertheless require collaboration with foreign companies and governments. If the Army chose the German Puma, which carries just 6 passengers, to replace the Bradley IFV, the service would need to buy 5 vehicles for every 4 of its existing Bradley IFVs. The advantage of the Puma, however, was that its capabilities are expected to be similar to or better than those of the GCV in other areas. It would be much more lethal than other vehicles that CBO evaluated—including the GCV. Its ability to protect passengers and survive combat would be slightly better than the GCVs and it would be almost as mobile. If the Army decided to field the Puma, the development and production of that vehicle, like the Namer, would require collaboration with foreign companies and governments. Lastly, if the Army reconditioned its existing Bradley IFV fleet instead of replacing them, the existing capability of the fleet could be maintained through 2030. The Army could continue to investigate ways to improve the existing Bradleys IFV, but it would not field any new or improved vehicles.
The April 2013 CBO report also noted that the Army wanted to field the first GCVs in what would be an unusually short time for such a complicated new system. At that time technology development, which had began in December 2011, was expected to continue through June 2014. Then, more than 4 years of engineering and manufacturing development was to take place. Production was scheduled to begin in 2019, and the first production vehicle could be available in 2020. CBO estimated that the Army would require 1,748 GCVs to equip 22 armored brigade combat teams across the Active and Reserve Component, each assigned 61 GCVs and 2 spare vehicles, and to provide additional vehicles for use in training and support activities and in prepositioned sets of equipment On the basis of the Army’s planning documents, CBO assumed that purchases would reach an annual rate of 156 by 2021 and that procurement would extend through 2030. On the basis of preliminary estimates provided by the US Army, and as revised to reflect changes made in the program in January 2013, CBO projected a total development cost of $5.3 billion for the period from 2014 through 2021. As the program was still in the early stages, CBO stated that it was difficult to project procurement costs accurately. However, in August 2011, when approving the program's entry into technology development, the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics established an upper limit of $13.5 million for the average cost to purchase a vehicle. Using that ceiling as a basis, CBO estimated that the cost of purchasing 1,748 GCVs would be $23.5 billion and that the total cost of development and procurement for the program would be $28.8 billion from 2014 through 2030.
General Dynamics and BAE raised opposition to CBO's report suggesting CBO evaluated vehicle requirements that had changed since March 2011 and did not take into account significant program changes since then. According to General Dynamics and BAE, their respective vehicle designs had evolved significantly since early 2011, noting, for example, the requirement for the GCV's main armament had become a 30mm gun, whereas in the CBO study, they evaluated a 25mm gun. Another criticism levied against CBO's report was that CBO did not factor in other critical GCV requirements, such as the vehicle's ability to accommodate existing and future communications technologies, the vehicle's ability to incrementally accept improvements, and long-term sustainability. CBO acknowledged in the report that data used in the analysis was provided by the Army in 2010 and that it did not have more current data available.
The funding requested for the GCV program in the proposed FY14 budget, released in April 2013, was $592.2 million for Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (RDT&E).
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