JUST IN: Army to Release New Wish List for Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle
The Army will soon release a new list of desired capabilities for a next-generation combat vehicle as it reboots its effort to acquire a replacement for the Bradley, according to the service’s chief of staff.
Last month, the Army canceled the solicitation for the middle tier acquisition rapid prototyping phase of the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle, also known as OMFV.
Based on feedback and proposals received from industry, the Army determined that it needed to revisit the requirements, acquisition strategy and schedule before moving forward, the service said in a press release.
"The Army asked for a great deal of capability on a very aggressive schedule," said Bruce Jette, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology in the release. “It is clear a combination of requirements and schedule overwhelmed industry's ability to respond within the Army's timeline.”
Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville said the service has decided to proceed differently.
“We are changing our process and you're gonna see very shortly a list of characteristics coming out,” he said Feb. 19 at an event hosted by the Center for a New American Security in Washington, D.C.
The document will be more of a wish list rather than a set of firm requirements, he suggested.
“We're avoiding the word requirements because it means so much to those in the business that it actually constrains innovation, so [instead] we are coming out with a list of characteristics that we want for this Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle,” McConville said.
The service will then ask industry to come up with designs, and it will use other transaction authority agreements to fund the efforts, he noted.
The Pentagon has embraced OTA agreements as a way to circumvent the cumbersome traditional defense acquisition process. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy is a big proponent of using the mechanism.
“It allows you to get things on contract quickly, provide prototypes … and unleash the engineering talent with great companies,” he said at the CNAS event.
McConville said once the designs for an OMFV are in based on the forthcoming characteristics list, the Army will ask industry to come forward with technology that they think would fit the design.
“We're going to incentivize that. And then once we get that back, we're going to take a look at the characteristics and say, ‘Hey, we need to define these a little better,’” he explained.
“The characteristics will get a little sharper and then we'll go to a detailed design and we'll downselect for that, and then we'll go to a prototype design and … actually make sure that we can build it,” he added.
A formal list of requirements won’t be issued until prototypes have been built and put through their paces, he noted.
“Then we'll know exactly what the trades are and we'll be able to proceed in a much quicker manner without spending a lot of money and without requiring industry to go after requirements that we didn't think we needed or were unobtainable,” McConville said.
Despite the setback with the canceled OMFV solicitation, McCarthy said the Army is determined to continue its pursuit of the next-generation vehicle, which service leaders see as a valuable capability that can help keep soldiers out of harm’s way whenever possible.
“This is the capability the Army requires,” McCarthy said last week during remarks at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
The failures of the previous effort came at a relatively low cost, and the service will incorporate lessons learned as it reboots the program, he said.
“We're taking our lessons learned in terms of requirements, cost sharing and industry informed timelines,” he said. “We tried doing it the old way and we missed pretty big, but we learned a lot and we spent $23 million instead of spending $2.3 billion like we would have done a decade ago.”
In past years the Army has seen high profile vehicle programs go off the rails, most notably the Future Combat Systems, which was canceled in 2009 after the service spent $19 billion on the effort. During a meeting with reporters at the CNAS event, McCarthy acknowledged that some in Congress may be skeptical about the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle.
“In many cases we're fighting history on that program as well,” he said. “We're going to have to do a lot of what we're doing right now — heavy communication to continue to inform [lawmakers] to get them as confident as they can be with these decisions.”
— Additional reporting by Yasmin Tadjdeh
Topics: Army News