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Three GCV Bids In; Did Army Get It Right?

And the bids are in for the U.S. Army's latest effort to field a Ground Combat Vehicle to replace its aging Bradley fighting vehicles, with BAE Systems, General Dynamics and SAIC-led teams entering the fray.

BAE is offering a brand new design, powered by a hybrid electric drive, that the company claims will be the "first combat vehicle designed from the ground-up to meet the current IED-threat environment."

Meanwhile, the SAIC team, which is calling itself Team Full Spectrum, is offering a version of the German Puma infantry fighting vehicle, the same product it offered in the previous GCV contest.

General Dynamics is also bidding.

In April, the Army will award up to three contracts totaling no more that $450 million each for the bidders to tweak their offerings and come up with the best possible design. Bids were due today.

After 24 months of technology development, the service will pick up to two competitors to continue a four-year engineering, manufacturing development effort, after which the service will choose a winner to build 1,874 of the IFVs. Those vehicles are currently projected to cost $9 million to $10.5 million apiece, not including the cost of spare parts and other support items.

The Army also wants the vehicles to cost $200 per operating mile. This falls between the $100 per mile of the Bradley and the $300 per mile of the M1 Abrams tank.

The last effort to field the GCV was cancelled last year after service officials decided the RFP called for a vehicle that didn't match up with the Army's needs.

The service kicked off a revised competition to replace its Bradleys in November, calling for an armored vehicle that can do everything from counterinsurgency ops to armored warfare.

A source who is closely watching the competition had careful praise for the Army's efforts this time, saying they appeared to have gotten the acquisition piece down, performing a complete turnaround from the FCS contract by offering clear goals and terms. The requirements side received less praise. The most interesting vehicle to watch, this source said, is BAE's offering. GD may be offering the product with the least risk. Of course, it's all very early in the process.

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