A day before a decision was due on a protest of the requirements for the Army’s Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV), 10 lawmakers sent the Pentagon’s chief buyer a letter strongly urging a mixed fleet of tracked and wheeled vehicles to fill Army requirements.
Members wanted the current request for proposals (RFP)–with bids due at the end of May– suspended.
“We strongly support a modified RFP allowing for a mixed fleet of both track and wheel vehicles to fit within the Army’s current force structure,” the members wrote.
The Army wants about 2,900 of the vehicles to improve soldier protection and survivability, while replacing the venerable M113 vehicle. The program is estimated to cost around $5 billion.
The members, Republicans and Democrats, are all from Michigan, Alabama and, Ohio, states where General Dynamics [GD], has a significant presence. General Dynamics is protesting the requirements that it says favor competitor, BAE Systems and its likely Bradley-based AMPV offering.
In March, the Army said it was delaying the protest ruling until April 4 because of the complexity of the issues.
General Dynamics’ protest said the Army’s requirements were skewed toward BAE’s Bradley, yet there was not enough information available for other companies, such as itself, to compete.
The letter to Frank Kendall said the new vehicles must be versatile, strong and interchangeable to ensure land force dominance.
“Abandoning the current one-size-fits-all procurement in favor of a mixed fleet plan is an Army vehicle strategy that we believe is sensible, sustainable, cost effective for the taxpayer and importantly, best for the warfighter,” they wrote.
And it’s no compromise, it’s what the land force is already doing, selecting different platforms for specific missions, the letter said.
“A mixed fleet is not about choosing between companies; it is about getting the best value,” lawmakers said. “A mixed fleet is not about picking Bradley or Stryker; it is about fielding the current vehicle type depending on the mission.”
A statement from BAE Systems’ Mark Signorelli, vice president and general manager of Combat Vehicles, said: “Unfortunately, this letter seems to overlook the importance of survivability in filling a critical capability gap that the AMPV would provide and is absolutely essential for the armored brigade teams. The Army has been working with industry for two years on the AMPV solicitation and has made numerous changes to the requirements to accommodate the broadest number of competitive offerings possible while still preserving the protection our troops need.
If General Dynamics disagrees with the bid protest decision April 4, it would then have 10 days to take the protest further, to the General Accountability Office (GAO), and potentially, beyond GAO to federal court.
Signorelli said, “Our troops will be the biggest loser if there are further delays as they need the protected vehicle described in the Army’s APMV requirements. Cost savings, political expediency and business reasons do not justify putting soldiers’ lives at risk.”
Members who signed the letter were : Mike Rogers (R-Ala.); Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Candice Miller (R-Mich.), Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), Mike J. Rogers (R-Mich.), Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.), Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Robert Latta (R-Ohio), and Tim Ryan (D-Ohio).