Industry bids are due this month in the competition to supply the Marine Corps with a long-range precision mortar, and an award could be announced by the end of this year or early 2012.

ATK [ATK] has teamed up with General Dynamics [GD] Ordnance and Tactical Systems, with the former as the prime contract. The same General Dynamics division is also competing separately as a prime with an internal firewall to maintain the integrity of the competition.

The Pentagon issued Request For Proposals (RFP) last month and companies are required to submit their bids by Oct. 28, industry officials said.

The Marines are developing the Precision Extended Range Mortar (PERM) as part of its Ship-to-Objective Maneuver (STOM) contingency operations, which is intended to support Marine infantry with precision 120mm mortars with ranges reaching as far as 20 kilometers. The mortars will be fired with the General Dynamics-built Expeditionary Fire Support System.

Both companies announced their intention to submit proposals recently.

Dave Dorman, ATK’s vice president of business development for projectile systems, said at Association of the United States Army exposition this week that his firm will provide the guidance system while General Dynamics will be responsible for propulsion.

“We think we have a very mature concept going forward,” he said.

ATK said some of the technology for PERM will be adapted from the XM395 deployed earlier this year under the Army’s Accelerated Precision Mortar Initiative (APMI).

Joe Buzzett, director for technology program at General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems involved in the firm’s effort to win the contract as the prime, said each GD team will use separate adapted systems to provide their own solutions.

The Expeditionary Fire Support System (EFSS), which the Marine Corps has been fielding since 2009, is designed for mobility and speed in providing close-in fire support and is transportable on the MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor and CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopter. It features a 120mm M327 mortar weapon system.