We’re getting closer to finding out if the Army and Marine Corps are really going to refurbish tens of thousands of Humvees over the next couple of years—and what that may mean for the developmental Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program which Congress wants cancelled, and which was recently folded into the same program office as the Humvee.
Last Wednesday, the Army released a slew of documents in a draft Request for Proposals (RFP) for what is officially called the HMMWV Modernized Expanded Capacity Vehicle (MECV) program, telling industry that a real RFP will come out on October 6, with an Industry Day on the 7th. The documents also set a deadline of January 13, 2012 for industry’s submissions, with a Production Contract Award slated for the 4th quarter of 2013.
The program is being split into two parts, with Phase One ending with the award of up to three Research Development Test and Evaluation contracts, with a single winner selected by 2013. Phase Two will then reopen the competition to all three of the original bidders
So far, we know who several of the companies bidding for the contract are: Oshkosh is in; Textron and Granite Tactical are in; AM General is in; BAE Systems is in; and I’ve been told that another major military vehicle maker is making an announcement this week that I suspect will be Recap-related. (More on that later.) Last week at the Modern Day Marine show however, we found out about another company throwing its hat in the ring—armor maker Ceradyne, Inc.
Marc King, president of Ceradyne Armor Systems says that the company isn’t rebuilding the vehicle like the other competitors mentioned above, but that its plan is to offer a bolt-on scalable armor solution that would be adopted by one of the prime competitors. So far, “we’ve been courted by a number of different primes” King says, adding that the Marines are currently funding testing of the solution, and that Army representatives have visited one of the company’s testing centers to get briefed on the company’s armor kit.
One interesting tidbit King passed along is that the company isn’t using an underbelly blast-deflecting V-shaped hull—a design spec which has become almost automatic in the age of the roadside bomb. Instead, the company has teamed up with Cellular Materials International from the University of Virginia, who uses a parabolic blast-absorbing crushable material that is being installed under the vehicle. King also said that Ceradyne is doing something that seems to be becoming a trend in the military vehicle market—it’s teaming with racecar designer Pratt & Miller to help design the spaceframe that will allow armor kits to be bolted on, and taken off, depending on the threat level where the vehicle is operating.
In all, this is shaping up to be a pretty interesting competition—and you can bet there’ll be lots of talk from all companies involved next week at the Army Association (AUSA) convention next week here in DC.