A few weeks back, Col. David Bassett, the U.S. Army’s project manager for tactical vehicles, told me that a draft RFP for the Humvee Recap program would come out “within the next few weeks.” Well, it’s here.
There’s a lot of drama surrounding the refitting of anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 Humvees, which has become all tied up with the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program and the issues that vehicle is going through. Earlier this year, Congress stripped $50 million from the JLTV program and shifted the funds to the Humvee, and last week a Senate committee, citing “excessive cost growth,” recommended the cancellation of the program. Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) said in a statement: “The committee believes that alternatives exist today to meet the Army and Marine Corps’ requirements to recapitalize and competitively upgrade the Humvee fleet, and supports funding for those programs.”
So far, we know that Textron and Granite Tactical Vehicles have combined to submit a bid to the Army (read this excellent George Packer piece in the New Yorker about that effort), and Humvee maker AM General is also in. BAE and Oshkosh are also expected to submit bids.
Speaking of Humvees, taking a quick trip through the dense language in the draft RFP, I noticed that one of the electronics systems it expects to be able to support is the Boomerang, a vehicle-mounted sniper-detection system that Raytheon’s BBN Technologies has been providing to U.S. forces since 2004. At the DSEi show in London last week, BBN announced that it signed a deal to provide the U.K. Ministry of Defense with a version of the system. I asked BBN’s David Schmitt about the deal, and he said the company made no “major changes” to it for the Brits, and that British soldiers are already using it in Afghanistan.
After picking up the sound of an incoming round, Boomerang alerts the crew inside the cab to the azimuth, range and elevation of the shooter. Schmitt added that his company is talking with several other NATO allies about obtaining the force-protection system. Earlier this year, the Boomerang was also integrated with the active Crosshairs RPG defeat system, and proved successful in Darpa and U.S. Army training. Plans call for sending the system to Afghanistan later this year.