Now that the Army has awarded two $400 million technology development contracts to industry teams led by BAE Systems and General Dynamics for its Ground Combat Vehicle program, it’s time to start hearing a bit more from the two companies about their designs.
One of the biggest differences between the two teams is the engine solution they’re offering. General Dynamics is going with the MTU 883 diesel engine, while BAE Systems is going almost the opposite direction with a new hybrid-electric engine.
Robert Sorge, who is spearheading the GCV program for General Dynamics Land Systems, says that the company chose the "combat proven” x 1100 Allison transmisison used in the Abrams tank “because of the significant risks in other technologies,” and also because the company is making an effort to achieve significant commonality between the GCV and it’s iconic Abrams.
BAE Systems’ Mark Signorelli, VP of Weapons Systems said that while there is additional investment cost associated with the hybrid electric system, the “procurement cost difference is not as significant I think as most people would conclude without having a detailed look at the cost data.” Both teams stressed that they meet all of the power generation and power storage requirements that that Army outlined in its request for proposal.
Another big issue, obviously, is cost. With different cost per vehicle numbers floating around out there, there is some confusion over what the official procurement estimates really are. The Army has said that it is sticking to its original $9 million to $10.5 million estimate, while the Pentagon has said that it sees $16 to $17 million per vehicle as a more realistic range, and then there is a new Army number that includes spare parts that falls in the $11 to $13 million range.
BAE’s Signorelli said that while he had not “had a chance to look at what [the Army is] including in their $11 million to $13 million cost figures,” and that “those are slightly different than the targets we've been given,” the BAE concept is “well below the midpoint of the range that we were given and we have a very high level of confidence in our cost estimates.”
GD’s Robert Sorge said that the company “will work with the Army at looking at some of the things we traded off in order to come to the affordability range that was originally specified in the Request for Proposals.” He added that the company will also need to work with the Army in understanding the differences between the unit manufacturing cost the Army asked for and the unit average production cost the Acquisition Decision Memorandum specified. Still, the company’s estimated manufacturing coats “is on the low end” of the $9-10.5 million per vehicle.