Army acquisition leaders moved Jan. 16 to delay its top modernization program, the Ground Combat Vehicle, in hopes of making it more viable in the face of expected defense budget cuts.
The Army issued a memorandum Jan. 16 announcing the addition of a six-month extension of the Technology Development phase of the GCV Infantry Fighting Vehicle program. Defense companies will have more time to "refine vehicle designs," according to an Army statement.
Company executives will have to review those designs as the Army has removed a possible contract later in the development program. Army officials chose to shrink the Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase down to a single vendor while also not authorizing planned procurement of long lead items for EMD prototypes.
Army leaders don't plan to make a Milestone C decision for the program until 2019, according to the memorandum.
The Army hope to use the GCV to replace the aging Bradley infantry fighting vehicle. The Bradley has been in service since 1981.
Army brass has listed the GCV as their top modernization priority -- the program they want to protect over other competing programs. However, questions exist whether the Army should develop a heavy, armored vehicle under the new defense strategy.
Delays are a reality for many of the Pentagon's major acquisition programs as a strategy to survive the planned budget cuts. Those cuts could become more severe should sequestration hit and result in a 10 percent cut across the Defense Department to include modernization programs.
The Army is continuing to work on its analysis of alternatives that includes many infantry fighting vehicles used by foreign militaries. Many defense analysts expect the Army to end up leaning on existing technologies and current vehicles rather than pursuing a full development program because of financial restrictions.