Army Considering Alternatives to Building a New Ground Combat Vehicle

2/23/2012
By Dan Parsons

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A competition is under way to find a successor to the Army's Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle. U.S. manufacturers BAE Systems and General Dynamics Land Systems are working on new designs. But the Army also plans to bring foreign competitors into the mix.
As part of an "analysis of alternatives," Army officials are evaluating existing European and Israeli vehicles that potentially could offer a cheaper and faster option than starting a new design from scratch. Trials could begin this spring at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, as part of the Army's larger equipment demonstration known as network integration evaluation, or NIE.
“It would be nice to have one out there in White Sands, but we couldn’t,” said Col. Andrew DiMarco, who manages the Army's Ground Combat Vehicle program. “We’re leveraging the infrastructure of the NIE,” he said at a news conference during the Association of the U.S. Army winter symposium.
The upcoming evaluations offer a "great opportunity" to see what the market has to offer and to take advantage of the NIE facilities to save money that otherwise would have been spent to test vehicles elsewhere, he said.
The Bradley replacement, known as the new Infantry Fighting Vehicle, is part of the larger Ground Combat Vehicle program. IFV has been through several iterations and plagued by delays. It got over a major hump in December when a 100-day protest was resolved. The Army is now planning on a four-year engineering and development phase before deciding how to proceed.
“We’re looking for vehicles with unique capabilities,” DiMarco said. “Existing vehicles certainly have potential. But I don’t know that an existing vehicle could satisfy the requirements without modification."
“We’re looking for a best-value solution at the end of the day,” said Scott Davis, program executive officer for Army ground combat systems.
DiMarco said that despite budget cuts planned for the coming five years, the IFV program will continue as scheduled. “The budget request that was sent to [Capitol] Hill sufficiently funded the work we need to do this year,” said DiMarco. “You’re always limited by requirements and budget" so the Army will have to make careful tradeoffs between what it wants and what it can afford, he added.

Topics: Combat Vehicles

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