Two of the Army’s Key Vehicle Programs in Limbo

The big sequestration-related news of the day came late this morning when the Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno reiterated that the Army is worried about the funding stream for several of its biggest developmental programs.

When asked about the Ground Combat Vehicle during a Q&A session at the American Enterprise Institute, he replied that “because of the sequestration cuts, we have to consider everything. We have to look very hard at all our modernization programs; I’m very concerned about it.”

Since the GCV is the Army’s second-highest acquisition priority after the WIN-T communications network and is being billed as the centerpiece of its armored formations of the future—replacing the Bradley Fighting Vehicle—Odierno told the audience that “we need the Ground Combat vehicle and we have to have it. Now, we might have to delay it because of budget cuts. I don’t know; we haven’t made the decision yet.”

While this wasn’t necessarily anything new, the GCV has taken its share of lumps in recent months, having been delayed in January and then being on the receiving end of a highly critical Congressional Budget Office report in April that evaluated several existing foreign infantry carriers that the government budgeteers said would meet most of the requirements of the GCV at a lower cost.

Still, the Army will do what it can to leave the program intact even as it prepares to absorb $52 billion in cuts in fiscal year 2014.

Another big Army priority is of course the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) which is billed as the high-tech replacement for the Vietnam-era M113 infantry carriers still wheezing their way through drills conducted by Army armored units.

While a draft Request for Proposals was released in March with the promise of a full RFP in late June, a service spokeswoman told Defense News that the Army has yet to brief the Secretary of Defense on the state of the program.

The program manager “has prepared the AMPV RFP for release” Ashley Givens wrote in an email. “Our next step is to brief the program to OSD in early August. After OSD reviews the program and any OSD directed changes are integrated, the final RFP for AMPV will be released.”

As it stands now, BAE Systems and General Dynamics Land Systems continue to refine their concepts for their AMPV prototypes, with BAE having designed a turretless Bradley variant and GD preparing to offer either a new, tracked Stryker or a wheeled Stryker Double-V Hull to the Army.

An award to a single vendor for the AMPV is expected in May 2014 if the current schedule holds, with close to 300 low-rate initial production vehicles beginning production in 2018.

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Paul McLeary

McLeary covers national security policies at the White House, Pentagon, the Hill, and State Department.
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