At a virtual industry day, Army officials discussed requirements for the new Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle Program with defense firms; a request for proposals to design the vehicle will be published later this month.
This is the Army's second attempt at the high-priority modernization effort. The service announced in January that it would restart the OMFV effort since it received only one valid bid, from General Dynamics, for the $45 billion program. A competing bid from Raytheon and Germany's Rheinmetall was disqualified when Rheinmetall failed to ship a prototype of its Lynx KF41 Infantry Fighting Vehicle to the U.S. by the service's deadline.
In March, Army acquisition officials told lawmakers that the service may have rushed the prototyping effort, which discouraged many companies from competing.
This time around, the Army is taking steps to maximize industry innovation while also reducing the burden and cost to industry for participation, according to a service announcement.
"We do this by starting the phase with a single requirement document, the OMFV Characteristics of Need, which is a prioritized list of nine broad desired characteristics," Brig. Gen. Ross Coffman, director of the Next Generation Combat Vehicles Cross Functional Team, said in a statement.
This initial design phase allows industry to develop digital designs while requirements mature, before prototypes are required in the following phase, according to the statement. The digital designs will be used to complete the Army's formal requirements document for the OMFV, to be published in fall 2021, Coffman said.
Army officials expect to issue up to five competitive contract awards in 2021 for OMFV design.
The service is also running a parallel competitive effort to develop open-architecture software for OMFV. It's pulling together a "voluntary consortium" for the effort that will include representation from industry, government and academia, according to the statement.
The Army wants OMFV, which is part of the Next Generation Combat Vehicle effort, to be outfitted with the communications, situational awareness gear and weapon systems to "deliver a decisive strike while manned or remote operated," according to a draft RFP released in July.
In battle, the OMFV will be designed to support maneuvering combat units by "detecting and destroying targets at a range beyond the enemy's capability," the draft RFP states.
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.