WASHINGTON: The Army, hopeful it has put aside two decades of wasted development efforts, took the large step Friday evening of awarding contracts worth $299.4 million to five companies for the second phase of the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle, the overdue replacement for the venerable Bradley Fighting Vehicle.
The contracts were awarded to Point Blank Enterprises; Oshkosh Defense; BAE Systems Land and Armaments; General Dynamics Land Systems; and American Rheinmetall Vehicles.
During this phase of the program, industry will develop digital designs while requirements mature; prototypes will be required in the following phase.
One of the generals who briefed reporters on the award described its import perfectly: “This is a really big deal,” said Maj. Gen. Ross Coffman, director of the Next Generation Combat Vehicles Cross-Functional Team.
“So far, we’ve learned a lot of great lessons but we think we’re on the right track.” It is very important for the Army to be right this time.
As previously reported, the sheer number of competitors (at least six — not all companies went public with their participation) and the work distribution across the US will be hugely helpful in selling OFMV to a skeptical Congress.
“The number of companies and their geographic locations ensures that Congress will take note of the number of jobs involved, especially during the post-COVID-19 economic recovery,” Guy Swan, a former armor officer now with the Association of the US Army, previously told Breaking Defense. BAE’s vehicle factory is in Pennsylvania, GD’s in Ohio, Oshkosh’s in Wisconsin; Point Blank Enterprises is in Miami Lakes, Fla..
The greatest skepticism from OFMV’s critics centers on the fact they don’t think relatively heavy vehicles will play a large role in a Pacific war involving China. Pressed on this point Friday, Army officials pointed to America’s last major conflict in the Pacific, World War II, as proof that no military can prevail without the protection and firepower armored vehicles offer. Flamethrowers and tanks were crucial in taking Iwo Jima, for example.
The Army’s “characteristics” for OMFV — they’re not formal “requirements” — say a platoon of vehicles should carry 30 fully equipped infantry as passengers. But it doesn’t say how many vehicles are in a platoon.
The one non-negotiable demand: OMFV must carry infantry through enemy fire to their assault point more safely and effectively than ever before. That includes better armor and mobility, as well as improved sensors and weapons, since the best way to ensure your own survival is to kill the enemy first.
‘Really Big Deal’ As Army Awards Bradley Replacement Contracts: OFMV – Breaking Defense Breaking Defense is written by Colin Clark for breakingdefense.com