Until congressional defense committees receive a report on the Army’s plan to replace M113 vehicles with Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicles (AMPV), including a look at a wheeled medical variant, a House Armed Services Committee (HASC) panel would limit program spending to no more than 80 percent of the final funding total.

HASC April 30 released legislative language that the Tactical Air and Land Forces subcommittee will consider Thursday in their markup of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act.

“The committee continues to support the AMPV program and expects the Army to conduct the competition in accordance with Federal Acquisition Regulations,” the summary of bill language said.

In a statement, BAE Systems, expected to respond to the AMPV request for proposals (RFP), said, “We are pleased that the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) has endorsed the Army’s acquisition strategy to move forward with the AMPV program to replace an aging Vietnam-era vehicle that is critical to protect soldiers in combat.”

“Furthermore, the House’s language clearly dismisses the notion of a split buy,” the company said. “BAE Systems looks forward to offering a low risk, cost effective solution that meets the Army’s critical survivability requirements.”

M113  Photo: BAE Systems
Photo: BAE Systems

In 2007, the Army decided to replace all M113 Armored Personnel Carriers (APC), originally built by BAE, with a more survivable and protected vehicle than the Vietnam-era vehicle.

The committee pointed out that in the 2012 and 2013 defense authorization acts HASC provided numerous options for consideration by the Army to accelerate the AMPV program.

The Army released an RFP for the echelons below brigade requirement, focused on survivability shortfalls within the Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT).

Earlier this year, General Dynamics [GD] filed an agency protest over the Army’s AMPV acquisition strategy that was denied. The company considered the RFP favored potential competitor, BAE.

The committee’s concern lies with some 2,000 M113 vehicles in in the echelons above brigade (EAB).

Also, the committee pointed out that at least once an ABCT deployed to Iraq with Stryker Medical Evacuation vehicles.

That led to bill language that would require the Army Secretary to include, as part of the report, “an assessment for the feasibility of incorporating medical wheeled variants within the ABCT.”

In a statement, General Dynamics said, “This language demonstrates that the subcommittee recognizes the AMPV acquisition strategy needs to be improved. It asks the Army to assess the feasibility of incorporating existing, modern Army vehicles for medical wheeled variants in the AMPV program, specifically the Stryker Medical Evacuation vehicle.”

Meanwhile, the company statement said it would continue “to engage with the Army and Congress on a cost-effective, rapid solution to replace the M113 with a modern vehicle fleet that better protects soldiers’ lives and saves taxpayers money.”

BAE sees vulnerability in a wheeled ambulance.

“The vulnerability of existing vehicles with lower protection and survivability levels is especially true for ambulances,” the company stated. “In a high intensity fight, the threat of enemy direct fire against incoming helicopters often prevents air evacuation; therefore ground ambulances must move to the damaged vehicle and evacuate the crew. When that damaged vehicle is an Abrams tank, the medical crew must risk their lives against the same direct fire threats as the crew of the tank. If a ground ambulance isn’t survivable enough or cannot maneuver in that environment, then another tank must come out of the fight to evacuate the crew.”

The bill would require the AMPV report no later than March 1, 2015.

The bill language requires a variety of items in the report, to include identifying the existing capability gaps of the M113 family of vehicles (FoV) assigned to units outside of combat brigades.

Also, the report should offer defense committees an estimated timeline and the rough order of magnitude of funding requirements associated with complete M113 FoV divestiture within the units–outside of combat brigades. It must include the risk associated with delaying replacing such vehicles.

The Army must include a description of the requirements for force protection, mobility, size, weight, power, and cooling capacity for the missions of the M113 family of vehicles (FoV) assigned to units outside of combat brigades.

Another discussion must look at whether a one-for-one replacement of the M113 FoV assigned to units outside of combat brigades is likely.

Additionally, the report will provide a look at fielding priorities.