GAO Denies Amphibious Combat Vehicle Protest

by Shaun McDougall, Military Markets AnalystForecast International.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office has denied General Dynamics Land Systems’ protest of contract awards to BAE Systems and SAIC for the Marine Corps’ Amphibious Combat Vehicle program.  The companies were awarded contracts in November 2015, and General Dynamics filed a protest in December.  Advanced Defense Vehicle Systems (ADVS) and Lockheed Martin were also in the running for the program.

“GAO concluded that the Marine Corps’ evaluation of the General Dynamics proposal was reasonable and consistent with the evaluation scheme identified in the solicitation. GAO also concluded that the decision to select SAIC’s higher-rated, but higher-priced proposal was within the agency’s discretion when conducting a best value procurement,” the government watchdog said in a statement.

BAE Systems is teamed with Iveco offering a version of the Italian SuperAV, and was awarded an initial $103.8 million contract.  SAIC, awarded a $121.5 million contract, is offering the Terrex 2 vehicle.  Each contractor is tasked with building 16 prototype vehicles for testing over the next two years.  A winner will be selected in 2018.  The selected contractor will deliver 204 personnel-carrier variants by 2020, valued at $1.1 billion.

This competition covers Increment 1.1 of the ACV program.  A second phase, Increment 1.2, will result in the delivery of up to 490 additional vehicles featuring various mission variants (command and control, logistics, recovery, and possibly turreted).  Increment 1.1 vehicles were expected to feature basic shore-to-shore swim capabilities to cross rivers and small bodies of water, while Increment 1.2 vehicles would add improved swim capabilities, enabling ship-to-shore travel.

Industry has been targeting Increment 1.2 requirements from the outset, however, in hopes of securing contracts for both increments by allowing the Marines to integrate increased capabilities earlier than planned.  The winner of the Increment 1.1 contract will end up being the natural choice for Increment 1.2, barring any unforeseen problems along the way.

Missing in both increments is a high-water-speed capability originally envisioned as part of the defunct Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle.  The EFV program was terminated in 2011 due to technical challenges and exorbitant costs.  A high-speed capability would allow the vehicles to be deployed farther away from shore, putting more distance between the amphibious ships carrying the vehicles and potential threats on shore.  The Marines are continuing to study high-water-speed capabilities, which could potentially be incorporated into a future vehicle.

The service requested $158.7 million for ACV development in its FY17 budget request, and has programmed a total of $506.1 million through FY21.

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Please see Forecast International’s International Military Markets series for further information on this and more topics related to country-by-country military expenditures, force structures and other defense-, security-, economic- and political-related issues.

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