Andrew Feickert Specialist in Military Ground Forces
April 2009, then-Secretary of Defense Gates announced he intended to
significantly restructure the Army’s Future Combat System (FCS) program.
The FCS was a multiyear, multibillion dollar program that had been
underway since 2000 and was at the heart of the Army’s transformation efforts.
In lieu of the cancelled FCS manned ground vehicle (MGV), the Army was directed
to develop a ground combat vehicle (GCV) that would be relevant across the
entire spectrum of Army operations and would incorporate combat lessons
from Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Army reissued a request for proposal (RFP) for the GCV on November 30, 2010
and plans to begin fielding the GCV by 2015-2017. On August 17, 2011, the
GCV program was approved to enter the Technology Development Phase of the
acquisition process and a day later, the Army awarded two technology
development contracts: $439.7 million to the General Dynamics-led team and
a second contract for $449.9 million to the BAE Systems-Northrop Grumman team.
Starting in May and running through June 2012, the Army tested a number of
foreign candidates during a Network Integration Exercise. This test informed
the Army’s Analysis of Alternatives (AoA), which is a requirement before
the GCV program can progress to the next developmental phase. The AoA
reportedly found no suitable existing, less expensive combat vehicles that
could meet the Army’s GCV requirements. In addition, the Army is said to
be considering including an active protection system (APS)—perhaps the
Israeli Trophy system—for inclusion on the GCV, but past experiences in
terms of technical feasibility and cost will likely play a factor in any decision
to initially field the GCV with an APS capability.
The Administration’s January 26, 2012, Major Budget Decision Briefing not only
introduced a new Asia-Pacific strategic focus, but also delayed the GCV
program for a year due to the SAICBoeing protest. While some might
consider this a setback, it can also be viewed as an endorsement of the
GCV program by the Department of Defense (DOD). The FY2013 budget request
for the GCV was $639.874 million for Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (RDT&E),
reflecting a one-year delay in the program and a $1.7 billion program cut. The FY2013
National Defense Authorization Act fully funds the Administration’s FY2013 GCV Budget
Potential issues for Congress include the role and need for the GCV in a
downsized Army that will likely have fewer armored brigade combat teams
(ABCTs). The Administration’s announcement of a strategic shift to the
Asia-Pacific region presents questions as to the necessity for ABCTs and,
by association, the GCV. GCV affordability also remains a key consideration for Congress.
The Army contends that the average unit production cost for the GCV will be
between $9 million and $10.5 million. The Pentagon’s Office of Cost
Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) estimates that the average unit
production cost will be in the $16 million to $17 million range, meaning
the Army would need an additional $7.2 billion to acquire 1,874 GCVs. A November
2012 Congressional Budget Office report on the GCV provides a range of GCV technical
issues for congressional consideration. A report suggests DOD is considering
significant budget cuts in the GCV program from FY2014 to FY2018, which
could have a major impact on the GCV program.
Date of Report: January 2, 2013
Number of Pages: 19 Order Number: R41597 Price: $29.95
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