WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army will go back to the drawing board after an effort to replace the Bradley Fighting Vehicle proved too challenging for the industry, a Pentagon official said on Thursday.
Only one proposal for a replacement vehicle was submitted, and it failed to meet Army requirements.
The U.S Army has embarked on an ambitious modernization task focusing its efforts and funds on six priorities including a better way to precisely fire weapons over a long distance, a new combat vehicle, a new helicopter, better missile defenses and networks.
“Today the U.S. Army will cancel the current solicitation” for the rapid prototyping phase for the optionally manned fighting vehicle (OMFV),” Bruce Jette, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics, and technology, told reporters at the Pentagon. He said “it’s a tactical pause,” because the Army is committed to getting a replacement for the Bradley.
“Based on feedback and proposals received from industry, we have determined it is necessary to revisit the requirements, acquisition strategy and schedule before moving forward,” Jette said. He did not give a timeline for when the Army would restart the competition.
A new vehicle, which could be self driving, could be worth $35 to $40 billion over the life of the program, according to Jim McAleese, of the defense consulting firm McAleese and Associates.
Jette said that in the past more than 10 companies had shown interest in participating. General Dynamics was the only company to submit a design on time for this phase of the competition. Raytheon recently hired a lobbyist to help position itself.
Mainstream automotive manufacturers have pursued U.S. military contracts in the past, and just last year all three of the Detroit automakers presented military-spec concept vehicles. FCA (in partnership with AM General) floated a Jeep Gladiator-based offering; General Motors and Ford also showed concepts based on civilian truck models as potential light military transport vehicles.
The cancellation happens just weeks before the anticipated release of the Pentagon’s 2021 defense budget. This program was one of the Army’s top modernization priorities.
Jette told reporters the Army has asked industry to do a lot in a very compressed time frame.
The Army has recently combed through its own programs and shifted here more than $30 billion from programs in the coming years to invest in top modernization priorities to meet a rising Chinese and Russian threat.