The Army’s decision to not submit its own design bid for the restarted Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) prototype competition was to remove concerns over conflicts of interest and avoid potential protest-related delays, an official said Wednesday.

Jeffrey Langhout, director of the Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Ground Vehicle Systems Center (GVSC), said the idea “turned out to be almost impossible” leading to its removal from pre-solicitation notices.

A Bradley Fighting Vehicle crew with 1st Battalion, 37th Armored Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas, drives to an objective during Iron Union 18-6 in the United Arab Emirates, Jan. 23, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Thomas X. Crough, U.S. ARCENT PAO)

“Industry made it clear they thought it was too much conflict of interest. As time went along and data started materializing and facts emerged, it became clear if we continued as a full-fledged competitor that…the chances of protests, and significantly long protests, were so likely that would only delay the overall program months and months and maybe even years,” Langhout said during a Heritage Foundation discussion on Wednesday.

The draft request for proposals (RFP) for OMFV, the Army’s Bradley replacement program, was released in July and originally included a note that the service may consider submitting its own design for OMFV phase one that could compete against industry’s proposals (Defense Daily, July 17).

A final RFP for the rebooted OMFV competition is expected to be released on Friday.

Langhout noted GVSC provides engineering expertise to both the Next-Generation Combat Vehicle Cross Functional Team and Program Executive Office-Ground Combat Systems, which are overseeing the OMFV effort.

“As you can imagine that, right off the bat, puts us in a significant potential conflict of interest, because we would’ve been the engineers helping with requirements development and characteristics development. We would be the engineers that support writing evaluation criteria and all the things involved that you would have in a competitive procurement,” Langhout said.  

Last week, the Army held a virtual industry day for OMFV where it offered expanded details on the program’s desired characteristics and contract award plans, including a note that each of the potential five contracts to be awarded in June 2021 will be worth $61.6 million (Defense Daily, Dec. 9).