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SOCOM may pick truck winner in May

U.S. Special Operations Command in coming weeks may select a company to supply it with a new four-by-four truck.

The contract for the Ground Mobility Vehicle program is valued at as much as $670 million over seven years. The deal calls for delivering 220 trucks a year, or possibly 1,540 in total. The funding would also cover spare parts, training and an electronics communications suite.

The vehicle must carry as many as seven passengers, weigh less than 7,000 pounds unloaded and be transportable in a CH-47 Chinook helicopter. The truck must also be able to fire its weapon in less than a minute upon driving off the twin-rotor aircraft.

The command, based at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, has already narrowed down the field of competitors to three companies: tank-maker General Dynamics Corp., based in Falls Church, Virginia; Humvee-maker AM General LLC, based in Sound Bend, Indiana; and truck-maker Navistar International Corp., based in Lisle, Illinois.

A final decision is expected in early May, according to an industry source with knowledge of the competition.

The winner will also probably benefit from international sales of the vehicle, or a similar version of it, especially in the Middle East. Countries such as Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have expressed interest in upgrading their fleets of armored trucks.

The command now uses a version of the iconic Humvee, which entered U.S. Army service in 1985 and whose vulnerability to roadside blasts was exposed during the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Army wants to replace about a third of its Humvee fleet with a new light-duty truck called the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, or JLTV. The service last summer awarded contracts to three companies -- AM General, Oshkosh Corp. and Lockheed Martin Corp. -- to build prototypes.

U.S. military vehicle programs face an uncertain future since the March 1 start of automatic budget cuts known as sequestration and last year's strategic shift by the Pentagon away from the ground wars of the past decade and toward threats in the Asia-Pacific region.

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