Three GCV Bids In; Did Army Get It Right?

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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I’d really interested what chance Puma will have, as it was designed to be airtransportable via A400M. That means it sacrifices some internal volume so it’ll fit. It’s modular with adaptive armor kits, but I suspect GCV requires all kinds of extra kit (jammers, ADS) that will balloon it’s weight to beyond its designed gross vehicle weight — it’s something that has bothered nearly all US vehicle programs, including Stryker, FCS and EFV.

I think the Army asking companies for vehicle that akin to a swiss army knife. Perhaps i’m foolish thinking that something that can do everything, will not be able to great at everything. I am believe the vehicle should be able to great couple things, not be mediocre with lots of things.

It needs to be a tank and a separate program for an IFV. This is just a watered down FCS.


Are the M1’s and Brads really that old?

bradley is dinosaur. i mean you compare it with more recent designs (puma, cv-90, k-21,etc), it just doesn’t cut it anymore. u.s army combat vehicle fleet is falling further behind after two decades of wasting moneys on dead-end projects like fcs and crusaders…

I guess the best way in choosing for the best defense mechanism, is when we look back and ask the questions of who, what and how the enemy looks scary and tick. We don’t see them in Bradley maybe because there is a reason for that. The best way we can successfully defend ourselves and win over any conflict there is with the enemy is by knowing who the enemy was and what they have.

The Puma as it exists now cannot accommodate the full 9-man squad plus3-man crew that GCV requires. Be interesting to see how it changes to fit 3 more guys.

GD’s been playing it’s design close to the chest, wonder what that means. They did just win lead for a contract to build Israel’s Namer in the US, wonder if that means Namer or a close cousin is their bid.

take school bus

Measuring performance by cost per mile point estimates is quite flawed thinking. It is going to be rather impossible to distinguish between the competitors using this flawed method, that opens the door for all kinds of sleazy cost accounting practices and poor decision making. How do we actually define a mile? A highway mile is different than a road mile than a combat operations mile. Miles are different from the desert to the Arctic to the jungle. I’ve also seen the historical data and the operating costs vary greatly from using Commands, ARNG vs Active, etc. When a vehicle is idling it is consuming fuel, increasing cost, but no miles are added. I’m sure there are plenty of Army ORSAs who are aware of this, and hopefully they are as furious as I am at their Generals inability to think clearly. Usage on a vehicle should be measured in both MILES and HOURS (just look at farm tractors).

just make it longer?

Abrams been around for 30 years, and need a fleet of fuel trucks to follow it so it can refuel every mile. (All we really need to do is replace the engine with something modern, but I guess that’s too difficult and wont line the pockets of certain people)

Bradley been around for 30 years aswell. And isn’t very good at protecting troops from IEDs, which is where the MRAPS come in, but the MRAPS don’t have the firepower of a Bradley, soooo we need a new one that incorporates those two, that can withstand todays, and tomorrows conflicts, and pack a punch.

The problem is that the Army designs a vehicle for the WW2 style open battlfield-Desert Storm type action. But in almost all other environments, guess what? It follows the roads! That’s why it’s so vulnerable to IEDs. What used to be a armored vehicle vs armored vehicle fight is now an armored vehicle vs IED fight, with the IED backed up by a small, mobile fighting force. We have a tactical employment issue. Maybe the solution is a limited number of armored vehicles (not 1,900) and more lightweight vehicles so we can run down the insurgents and fight them one-on-one, which means the warfighter needs the tools, not the vehicles.

and thus probably won’t be a400m transportable.

More lightweight vehicles so our soldiers can get butchered by IED’s? And if light enough.. RPG ambushes, and even small arms fire, etc etc.

Our units get butchered by IEDs because they are using large, cumbersome IFVs that, in many cases, can’t stray from certain roads because of weight issues. Lighter vehicles usually make up for the armor issue by having better sensors.. LAV-25 is a great example.

Correct me if I’m wrong or not, but I don’t think we have sensors “yet” that can detect mines/IEDS, or even the guy in the window around the corner with the RPG ready to ruin your day. I think this is why FCS got canned.

The only thing I can think of that’s currently fielded are ground penetrating synthetic aperture radars, but those are aerial-based, fairly large for a ground-based vehicle, and requires a lot of electrical power. Not only that, but SAR’s are freaking expensive. The ASARS-2 system used on the U-2S Dragon Lady is actually leased, not owned by the Air Force and only a handful of such units exist. U-2’s and RQ-4’s are already high-demand, low availability assets for other ISR missions.

you are correct. FCS was working on GSTAMIDS and ASTAMIDS systems. Who knows if those systems were worthwhile. The whole program was a such a fubar kludge that many babies could have been throuwn out with the bath water. I agree with @Earlydawn.. IED attacks more often happen on ROADS against wheeled vehicles. A solution is to go OFF ROAD, or have better ROTARY AIRCRAFT solutions for mobility. There are other solutions (no perfect ones) such as jammers, TTPs — drive at night…

tell that to the supply trucks

The M1 is still the best tank in the world but as stated below needs a new more efficient and more powerfull engine which there are many to choose from. You cant — I repeat cant make all your transports IED proof, the IED’s will only get bigger as they did to combat the too heavy non off road capeable MRAPS which is why the MATV is smaller — lighter — and a bit more off roadable. DPV’s and landrovers run all over the sand box with no issues like the MRAPS, Brads, Strykers, and armored humvees because they are alot faster and dont follow the highways and trails. RPG’s are very very cheap and plentiful, easy to use and transport — even a M1 cannot withstand multiple hits from one in the same location, the bad guys know this already — so should you. We need to be looking at what is avail off the shelf that can be upgraded and improved before starting from scratch with 47 mil dollar R&D contracts to three bidders.

please explain

they can’t go off road?

thanks — nice chatting with you

In a perfect world it should happen that way — we say we want a transport capable of these terrains at these speeds to carry these weapons, with these survivability requirements, not to exceed these demensions or weight for transportation requirements, with this type of fuel compatability and then see what they bring to the table — But since the government has shown a consistent disconnect with writing rquirements and always adding other items in, no contractor will front the effort any longer due to the losses incured by the contractors.

Awesome grammar..

The vehicles are measured in Miles and Hours. As for measuring cost performance. Apparently, they already have baseline with regard to M1 and BFV at 300 and 100 dollars. So the costing will be relivant to this baseline. This is a requirement being put on the vehicle to ensure it does perform within a certain perameter or the program could be held up until the vendor meets the requirement of 200 per mile or whatever baseline they choose.

as i’ve illustrated above, it is too simplistic to trust in a cost per mile point estimate. You and others like you may ‘believe’ in the $100/$200 baseline, but I assure you, you are not considering the variations as I’ve described above. The $100/$200 numbers may be “mean” resutls calculated by some data sets, but let me ask you then, what are the standard deviations of those data sets? You don’t know? You have committed the mistake of “Misplaced Concreteness” — if/when cost data on the new GCV is available, most people will likely make the same error. http://​en​.wikipedia​.org/​w​i​k​i​/​F​a​l​l​a​c​y​_​o​f​_​m​i​s​p​l​a​ced
You should read a book called Flaw of Averages by Sam Savage.
The culture we live in, and the political leaders, are “innumerate” and corrupt.

He has a point, the fleet of supply trucks that follow our vehicles can’t go off road due to fears of tipping over.

They might make bigger bombs, but it’ll cost more, and thus force them to have less bombs due to lack of resources. Now if we had lightly armored vehicles, they’d mass produce cheaper and smaller bombs and scatter them around. Which would cause more damage.

And you can’t drive offroad in a city or on a highway (where 99% of IED’s are).

Good Evening Folks,

Well just when one though they had seen everything, Boeing/SAIC is back in the game with a wheeled vehicle. I guess that $200 billion dollars draws ‘em all.

Oh by the way, anybody know how that tanker bid of last year is coming. The last I heard is that EADS lawyered up and is ready, if EADS won they got it, if Boeing won, EADS would protest or drop the protest if Boeing wanted to split the bid.

Byron Skinner

A wheeled vehicle? Do you happen to know if it is a further development of the Stryker/LAV family or something different?

I believe a wheeled FCS testbed was built before they selected tracks for all of the MGVs, I wonder if there is any relation.

What are you talking about? Boeing and SAIC are on the Puma team. Any how, how do you make a tracked vehicle IED proof? Has there honestly been any test of the modern tracked vehicles in these high IED environments? Have the Dutch encountered many with their cv series? We know the Bradleys’ are critically vulnerable to IEDs I suspect all of these IFVs are. Combat would test them well. If IEDs are the prime concern maybe a wheeled vehicle is better. If mobility is the primary concern then yes tracks.

Tracks make the vehicles heavier and slower, you wont exceed 40 mph for fear of throwing the track in a turn which is common at high speeds. wheeled vehicles have drawbacks but are lighter — faster — easier to maintain — and cheaper to build. IED’s and land mines are a part of war along with bullets, rockets, artillery and aircraft you cant make a vehicle 100% immune. We dont know where our next battle will be and dont need to set up our entire military for urban warfare. Yeah a lot of IED’s or car bombs are used in or near the city, RPG’s are an even bigger threat in a urban area because you have a lot of high spots to fire them from.

An Abrams tanker buddy once put it to me like this — there are many different kinds of environments & situations and there is a time and a place for both wheeled vehicles & tracked vehicles. I don’t understand why there even has to be a ‘wheeled vs track’ debate. We need BOTH types of vehicles.

maybe some sort of v-shaped hull or some other system that provides extra protection for crew.. maybe like titanium bathtub on the A-10

no kidding — what a revelation

I would agree with that if it wasnt for the fact they are trying to develope a one for all vehicle to replace everything we have now. They forget there was a reason for having different types in the first place.

these “one for all” acquisitions often end up as failed endeavors, with no real decisions on requirements and tradeoffs being met. These situations would be less likely to happen in my vision for what MDAP acquisition should be: incremental improvements over proven designs. Bradley is ancient, and needs a modern replacement. Abrams is ancient, and needs a modern replacement. We should start with existing systems and focus on fixing their known deficiencies, or improving their performance incrementally. If a system has outlived its potential, then we should start with the existing performance requirements and incrementally improve upon those. We often get caught obsessing over the end item platform, and fail to consider the enterprise wide aspects — logsitics, support equipment, training, spares, etc. We give risk management lip service, this needs to change.

You are right in what you say, it’s like in the F35 war — originaly the f22 was to be a replacement for the F117 and the 35 for the F15 and F14. Now the F35 is the do all but doesnt really replace the all in any way — add to this that the Navy’s carrier based long range bomber replacement for the A6 was shelved during the Clinton years and has yet to be addressed again. (only a B1 or B52 could carry more ordnace and range of an A6 intruder), New carrier versions of the A10 were also wanted but refused as well. We cannot afford to replace all hummers with MATV’s, nor can we replace dedicated fighters, interceptors, heavy bombers and cas with one air frame any more than we can have one type of ground combat vehicle/ infantry fighting vehicle. That is like saying we need to do away with all infantry and crew served weapons and grenades and save money by outfitting everyone with a scoped rifle and double the ammo to get the same but cheaper results.

yeah — one of the tragedies with the current way we do MDAPs is the loss of capability when the legacy platforms retire… In an incremental improvement strategy, we would have better assurance of not losing much needed and loved capability… Are you sure about F-22 replacing F-117? F-117 really a misnomer since it was an attack/strategic bomber aircraft. I thought F-22 was originaly conceived dedicated air to air — replacement for F-15C. Then USAF added in puny air to ground capability at the last minute to help it survive politically, at much extra cost to the taxpayer, of course!

Excepting his grammar it’s not a bad comment. We have a tendency to ask our latest ship/plane/vehicle to do everything. In the end it adds 10 years to development and doubles the price. Every single time. Isn’t that why the last GCV proposal was canceled? The US Army wanted a vehicle that was low weight, fuel efficient, had lots of guns, lots of armor, lots of sensors, and could comfortably carry a squad. They might as well have asked it to fly to space to top off the requirements list.

Those figures for the Abrams and Bradley were probably calculated over the course of 20 years of operations with real world data. How will they get those figures to put into a competition with just prototypes?

No the 22 was actualy a 117 nighthawk replacement, while they mostly performed bombing raids they were fighters. Unfortunately though the wings and tails were removed and all placed in storage before the 22 program got smashed. I hope some are still around and they were not all given/sold for nothing to other countries who may some day use them against us. It’s a total mess — 35 instead of replacing 14 & 15 is also supposed to now replace f117/f22, f16, f18, a6, a10 missions as well and I just dont think it can.

this gets back to my original point as to why this is such a poor measure by which to judge a competition at this point. the army’s O&M cost data system is called OSMIS, and like I said before, you need to take into consideration all the variations given type of use, using command, etc. There will be confusion over definitions of exactly is an ‘operating mile’. EG, does this include use of ammunition? One competitor’s prototype might be great at road marching and cost less than another competitor’s, but when you add complexiities like off road use or firing (which is what really matters operationally), the POS falls apart. Another prototype might guzzle fuel and cost a lot at road marching, but off road and while shooting it is a gem: it works, period. This type of metric would give more credit to the POS. This is all an example of how Poor Requirements and Poor Systems Engineering leads to crap acquisition programs.

You are on the right track. We need to base our MDAP Acquisition porfolio based on incremental improvements to current systems, sustainment of current capabilities, and enterprise risk management.
We know what to do, we know what mistakes have been made in the past, we know what mistakens not to continue to make in the future. We have known all these issues for years and years. The rest is just politics. Unfortunately there are too many fools running the ship.

You don’t know what you’re talking about. the F-117 was designed from the get-go as tactical (not strategic…)strike bomber, whereas the F-22 was expressly designed to be a cutting-edge air dominance fighter.

Stealth aside, the F-117 possessed none of the attributes necessary for an effective air combat fighter. Not only did it have a low-thrust to weight ratio (crucial for acceleration and sustained climb and turn performance), it was also lacked supersonic performance (and AA radar, and AA missiles, and a rapid-fire cannon, and all the other good stuff that makes a fighter a fighter…) . And its handling qualities were of the sort that led to it being nicknamed the ‘Wobblin’ Goblin’ by its crews. And you don’t have to worry about any of the ill-handling maintenance hogs being given to potential adversaries. None of them could even keep an F-117 in the air.

You are vaguely correct about the JSFubar program, so maybe there’s some hope for you. Keep tryin’.

well it is true…

The wobblin gobblin name was declared unjust after prototyping was done, They flew many missions during the gulf war unoticed and with great succes. Yes they had many drawbacks, one being most effective at night but they are highly regarded birds just as thier bigger brother B2, they were state of the art when originaly designed in the early 80’s, but are now out dated as will be the 35’s when they finnaly start patroling the airspaces. Diffs aside the 22’s with thier advanced capabilities were replacements for 117’s, even the AF admits to this in thier official websites as does global security and other sites.

Looking at Team Full Spectrum’s press release, their concept seems to be a blend of the FCS ICV and the Puma — mostly in the turrent design (looks kind of like a Puma turret on an MGV chassis). One may recall that the MGV had a common chassis and specific “mission variants” deployed on that common chassis. That said, the speculation is that vehicle weight goes upward of the Puma’s 40 ton max protection mode. Dempsey has been quoted as saying he doesn’t care about limiting vehicle weight, but that is certainly problematic from the perspective of strategic mobility — if you can’t even get two GCV’s in a C-17, you might as well send an Abrams or two Bradleys to the fight.

You yourself asked “please explain” so we did.…

yeah, that’s the AFV built in Germany, right?
So what’s the deal with Boeing’s hypocrisy here?
It’s un-American to buy a plane people suggest will mostly be built in France,
but it IS OK to buy an AFV (that Boeing will be involved in) that will mostly be built in Germany?

Seems to me that neither Boeing nor SAIC have a US facility suitable to build AFVs from the ground up,…but KMW does: in Germany.


Someday we’ll figure out that all the major DoD players work on each others programs and there is global efforts in each. I guess the public hasn’t figured that out yet. In the meantime, big dollars draws the big players into the game. In many cases, they put their logos on the product, put in some money, do the integration, take some of the risks, and accept a share of the profits if they win the contract. Lower tier companies do the remainder of the work. That’s the modern day procurement world.
Forget the “us vs them” rhetoric. Get a little reality into the discussion.
“Vitesse et ..” says to send in 2 Bradleys. The new proposal is to replace the Bradley in the inventory. Some commenters need to read the original article closely so they don’t make statements that are off the mark.

I don’t know their specific plans (and could talk about it if I did), but here are some considerations. For one thing, Boeing has plenty of slack plant in Southern California. But — labor rates and unions being what they are, if this team goes for new plant, I would suspect that they will look for somewhere in the Southwest US, or perhaps the Southeast US. You might see KMW build components, but this won’t happen if the vehicles are not assembled in the US — and this is consistent with the press releases the SAIC/Boeing/KMW team has put out. The GM/Chrysler meltdown has vacated a number of assembly as well as component plants. In my town, GM has shut down a 275,000 square foot plant, certainly not a terrible large facility, but for low rate production, maybe just the right size — in a locale that would certainly welcome business of this sort.

The point of building a new fleet of armored fighting vehicles is not just to buy a new brand and maybe save maintenance costs. The G-8 study published last year revealed a current force fleet that is pretty broke in more ways than one. If you get the requirements and the design wrong on a new generation of ground combat vehicles, you are stuck with their limitations for a long, long time. That’s what the government needs to be worried about. From industry’s perspective, they respond to the requirements the Army writes and perhaps if they can, may be able to exceed those requirements. Sometimes contractors need to work outside the box and understand their customers well enough to solve the problems they didn’t think could be solved. Whether it is the FAR itself getting in the way or US industry that is broke (after all SAIC is a very non-traditional prime for a program like this one)…the Germans seem to have the ability to put state of the art solutions into the field, even with low production runs, quality seems good and you don’t hear BWB or the Heeresamt complain about what a bad deal they are getting.

You sure about that? From all I read the F-22 was meant to be an F-15 replacement and the F-35 was meant as an F-16, F-117, and A-10 replacement. In fact, one of the arguments some people use in favor of the F-25 vs. the F-22 is the F-22s relative lack of ground attack capability.

In fact; what about that K-21? It does a pretty good job of swimming from what I see. Maybe we ought to use it as the Marine EFV also? Maybe someone more familiar with its reputation and specifications can weigh in.

I’d prefer to say their was no replacement for the “Goblin”; because it was already so obsolete, that nothing like it, other than stealth capability and having internal bomb bays, would ever be built again. The F-117 was a custom fit for a custom job, that has evaporated. The thing couldn’t even go supersonic, because at that time it didn’t need to. Now that the cat is out of the bag, no one would ever try that again. Not to mention one has already been shot down, by inferior land forces!

No — we just need a modern replacement for our supersonic fighter/bombers, and Naval air craft. I agree that one size shouldn’t fit all in this endeavor.

In response to BOOMERs jan 25th comment about tracked vs wheeled weights. You say tracked vehicles are heavier and slower than wheeled and it’s the tracks that make them so. Actually the tracked driveline, with one set of power sprockets at the rear and a series of unpowered roadwheels is lighter than a wheeled drivetrain with the added complexity of lots of diffs and axles.

What makes traked vehicles so much heavier and slower is the designers realisation that the tracks make such a nice low ground pressure per square inch of ground covered, that they can layer on so much steel and ceramic plate without worrying about popping tyres. 14 roadwheels (7 a side) on a tracked vehicle can spread the weight far more than 8 (4 a side) wheeled vehicle tyres, and do it in the same packaging size witht he space used by diffs in the wheeled versions, available for stoage on the tracked.

statistics doesn’t need 20 years worth of data to make an estimate.

tell your friend statistics to make an estimate out of 19 years worth of data then.

To jam six or seven guys in back of a Merkava, you need to remove most of ammo load you have back there, which kinda defeat the point of having a MBT. I think that typically there is only room for two combat equipped.

The Namer is more of a proper APC/IFV and can carry a full eight or nine man squad.

I like the Namer; heaver armor, v shaped hull. What do you think of the Korean K-21? That thing swims like a fish!

I wasn’t thinking about it as a MBT replacement. I was only thinking of it as a replacement for the Bradley. I have to admit I didn’t know the Merkava weighed nearly 70 tons though. With that kind of armor the cost is probably going to be prohibitive.
My thinking was that the Merk. has good weapons, and good armor.

merkava can’t carry 6 men, only 3, but that’s in emergencies only (and not a comfortable ride i suppose). it’s also used to carry stretchers (with wounded) or ammo, i’ve heard.

too bad they don’t want the CTA cannon though…
puma, the RC turret and that thing (+ a missile, although something with more range then javelin, spike or JAGM maybe??) = perfect IFV

one sank some time ago afaik. and the (us) army isn’t too keen on swimming anyway. and it’s made out of fiberglass, so who knows, how much addon stuff can it accept… probably not much.
and it’s also not too good against IED, as it wasn’t really a consideration (swimming was more important)

Thanks asdf, I appreciate the reply.

The youtube video shows it floating with a swim board. I suppose more than one amphibious vehicle has sank in the development stage, but fiber glass doesn’t sound encouraging. I would have thought a more modern design would use composites, like some of the armor on the M1.

It probably doesn’t have the hull design for IEDs anyway(either).

and yes, swimming and IED protection are exclusive between themselves

yeah, but the stryker was failed from the start imo (c-130 portability). there are much better designs with respect to just about everything, Patria for example.

Actually alot of the damage from IEDs occurs from the explosive force acting upon strong metalic plates or other parts. Much of the MRAP tech has been a course of “going soft” with weaker materials that give uniformly, instead of blowing up.

Yes, I do understand v-hull dynamics; I just get fixated on amphibious capability sometimes, and it is too much to expect that to be incorporated into an IFV, I suppose. If you want modern features that is. Thanks for your reply Robert!

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