The decision was due Monday, but the Army Materiel Command General Counsel has delayed until April 4 a verdict on General Dynamics’ [GD] protest of the acquisition strategy for the Armored Multipurpose Vehicle (AMPV) program to replace aging M113 vehicles.

M113 Photo: BAE Systems
Photo: BAE Systems

The AMPV program is all about protecting the troops, something the venerable M113 can no longer do well in today’s environment. The program calls for some 2,900 vehicles that must be able to keep up with tanks in rough, off road terrain in the heavy brigade combat team (HBCT).

The replacement vehicles would take on five M113 mission areas: general purpose, mortar carrier, mission command, medical evacuation, and medical treatment.

Since the draft AMPV request for proposals (RFP) was released, General Dynamics had been discussing the program requirements with the Army, and eventually pursued an agency protest over what the company believed was an unfair advantage in the requirements that mitigates any options but a Bradley-based technical solution.

BAE Systems is the original equipment manufacturer of the Bradley.

General Dynamics yesterday said it received a statement last week from the AMC General Counsel that said: “Due to the complexity of the issues involved in the protest, it is necessary to extend the due date for the decision in the subject protest. The new decision due date is April 4, 2014.”

AMC had 30 calendar days to review the protest, meaning a decision would have come March 24. Depending on the ruling April 4, the process gives a company 10 days from the ruling to file a protest with the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which would have some 100 days to make a decision. After that, a company has the option of filing a case with a Federal Court.

General Dynamics’ said its goal is to have a fair opportunity to compete, and under the RFP doesn’t have the time or the data to compete. At issue are the AMPV requirements, which the company said are biased to a Bradley tracked vehicle, including Bradley technical data only available to BAE and the Army.

The Army does hold much Bradley technical data, but some data is proprietary to BAE.

At this point it appears that BAE likely has a proposal that meets the requirements while General Dynamics would like to change them.

This is completely opposite to its stance when Harris [HRS] was trying to enter the Warfighter Information Network -Tactical (WIN-T) Joint Tactical Radio Systems (JTRS) market arena, according to a source. General Dynamics had the development contract, and said among other things Harris wanted to dumb down, or change, requirements so it could compete for the work.

For the AMPV program, General Dynamics suggests that a mix of Stryker and Bradley vehicles is a more cost-effective, survivable, combat-ready solution that would save the government billions through lower life-cycle costs.

“We are not attempting to prevent BAE from participation, in fact, our mixed fleet gives BAE 56 percent of all the vehicles in the requirement,” Keating said. “Our solution offers the Soldier increased protection from the (double V-hull) DVH Stryker than is called for in the RFP.”

BAE Systems Land and Armaments Vice President and General Manager Combat Vehicles Mark Signorelli, said: “The Army has had the solicitation underway for more than two years and has made numerous changes to the requirements to accommodate the broadest number of competitive offerings possible while fulfilling an immediate need for improved survivability, force protection, mobility, reliability, and mission equipment integration. Further delays to the AMPV program will place soldiers at risk and are unreasonable.”

Signorelli said the Army’s requirements challenged BAE beyond the idea of a basic “turretless Bradley” to provide an innovative, low cost design that will serve and protect our soldiers well into the future.

“BAE Systems is submitting a compliant and competitive AMPV bid responsive to the Army’s requirements in the request for proposals,” Signorelli said.

Keating said with more time and more Bradley data the company would offer a Bradley-based solution or a tracked Stryker vehicle solution if requirements could be changed because the tracked Stryker is not a type-classified Army vehicle.

BAE data shows more than 80,000 of the Vietnam-era vehicles around the world in more than 40 variants used in 44 countries.

The bottom line is that a successful AMPV program must improve soldier protection.