Army Pauses $45 Billion Vehicle Program That Drew Only One Bid

(Bloomberg) -- The Army is declaring a “tactical pause” in its projected $45 billion program to replace the Bradley Fighting Vehicle after General Dynamics Corp. was deemed the only qualified bidder and the service acknowledged its requirements were too hard to meet.

“The Army asked for a great deal of capability on a very aggressive schedule,” Army weapons buyer Bruce Jette told reporters at the Pentagon Thursday. Despite “unprecedented” efforts to engage contractors over almost two years, “it is clear a combination of requirements and schedule overwhelmed industry’s ability to respond within the Army’s timeline,” he said.

Jette said the “Optimally Manned Fighting Vehicle” wasn’t a “failed program” like others where the Army poured in billions of dollars before cancellation. From 1995 through 2009 the Army spent $32 billion on 22 weapons programs that were eventually canceled, according to a 2011 report written by retired Army acquisition officials.

Instead, Jette said, Army acquisition officials, working with the new Army Futures Command, decided to pause the program at the front end of a prototype design phase rather than push ahead “on a requirement that made no sense.” He didn’t say how much was spent.

General Dynamics, based in Falls Church, Virginia, was the only remaining qualified bidder after a team of Raytheon Co. and Rheinmetall was disqualified and BAE Systems Plc dropped out before submitting a bid for the prototype phase.

“We are going to take what we have learned and apply it” to “develop our path and build a healthy level of competition back into the program,” said General John M. Murray, commander of the Army Futures Command.

The plan for the new vehicle called for buying 3,850, with the first deployed by about 2026.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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