HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Oshkosh Defense’s [OSK] protest of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) follow-on production contract claims the Army didn’t properly assess the risk in switching suppliers, according to the company’s president.

“That’s the gist of our protest is that [the Army] didn’t properly contemplate the overall risk associated in the competition,” Tim Bleck, president of Oshkosh Defense, told Defense Daily during an interview at the Association of the United States Army’s Global Force Symposium here last week. “We believe that the Army awarded the JLTV contract to a company that will likely lose hundreds of millions of dollars and, quite frankly, probably isn’t capable of handling such losses given that the JLTV platform will represent a majority of their volume.”

A Joint Light Tactical Vehicle displays its overall capabilities during a live demonstration at the School of Infantry West, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Feb. 27, 2019. The JLTV consists of multiple platforms capable of completing a variety of missions while providing increased protection and mobility for personnel across the Marine Corps. (Official Marine Corps video by Sgt. Timothy R. Smithers/Released)

AM General in February beat out current JLTV manufacturer Oshkosh Defense for the potential 10-year, $8.7 billion re-compete production contract, which may cover delivery of up to 20,682 JLTVs and up to 9,883 JLTV Trailers (Defense Daily, Feb. 9).

In early March, Oshkosh Defense announced it would protest the decision and cited “significant concerns regarding the evaluation of the proposals” (Defense Daily, March 6). 

A redacted copy of Oshkosh Defense’s obtained by Defense Daily claims AM General made an “unrealistic” price offer for the work and said the Army’s best value determination was “flawed.” 

“The Army’s evaluation and award decision in this procurement reflect numerous significant flaws, which resulted in the Army’s decision not to award to Oshkosh, the successful developer and production contractor of seven years. The Army’s errors not only deprived Oshkosh of the award but also create substantial risk for this vital defense program at a time of global instability,” Oshkosh Defense writes in its protest. 

The protest also states the post-award debriefing on the decision showed the Army “held the offerors to two different standards for their evaluations” and that the service took a “much more relaxed approach” to evaluating AM General’s proposal.

“At this time AM General will not comment on this matter,” the company said in a statement to Defense Daily

Jim Cannon, CEO of AM General, told Defense Daily in early March, before Oshkosh Defense filed its protest, that the company is “well into execution” in moving toward JLTV A2 production and is planning to build the platform in “some very non-traditional ways” (Defense Daily, March 2).

“It’s hard to sometimes win when there’s an incumbent. But I looked at it like a no-lose mission. We were either going to compete to win and win it. And we did. And, of course, we’re very humbled and fortunate for this opportunity now. Or, we would compete to win and be beaten, but the Army would get a better vehicle,” Cannon said. 

Oshkosh Defense’s protest also alleges the Army ignored “serious gaps” in AM General’s production process, which it says is heavily reliant on pneumatic tools, and claims its competitors “labor rates were low because it was proposing labor categories that were not appropriate for the work to be performed.”

“JLTV has been one of the rare programs that has been on schedule, on budget and delivered the capabilities. In fact, when they announced the new supplier they also indicated that this was a model program for the Army and had won various acquisition awards. So they’re quoting the success of the program at the same time they’re switching suppliers, which is a little ironic, I would say,” Bleck told Defense Daily.