Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle
The M113 has been in service since the early 1960s and while able to take on various roles, has proven too vulnerable for combat. In the 1980s, the M2 Bradley replaced the M113 in the front-line transport role, moving it to rear-area roles. In the Iraq War, urban warfare tactics still defeated the M113, leading it to be nearly replaced entirely in active service by MRAP vehicles. MRAPs were useful on the roads of Iraq, but have less payload capacity and poorer off-road performance. The AMPV aims to find a vehicle more versatile and mobile against a wide range of adversaries while having off-road mobility compared to Bradleys and M1 Abrams tanks.
Some reports suggested that the AMPV program was being favored over the Ground Combat Vehicle program. While procurement of the AMPV fleet would cost over $5 billion, the Government Accountability Office estimates the GCV fleet would cost $37 billion. In April 2013, the Congressional Budget Office said the AMPV would be a better buy because analysts have asserted that the vehicles the GCV is slated to replace should not be first. The GCV Infantry Fighting Vehicle would replace 61 M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles per armored combat brigade, making up 18 percent of the 346 armored combat vehicles in each armored brigade. A 24 September 2013 Congressional Research Service report suggested that given budgetary constraints, the GCV program may be unrealistic, and that one potential discussion could focus on a decision by the Army to replace the GCV with the AMPV as their number one ground combat vehicle acquisition priority. The Army FY 2015 budget proposal suggests cancelling the GCV program and moving funds to the AMPV as the service's priority vehicle program.
In order to keep development costs down, the Army is requiring the vehicle be a commercial off-the-shelf design that can be incrementally improved. The vehicle would have new technologies including electronics, networking, and communications gear added onto the platform as they become available later. If the AMPV can incorporate newer satellite communications as they are developed, they could be linked to other ground vehicles that would normally require a complete subsystems overhaul for new gear after a certain number of years. The operational maintenance cost requirement of the AMPV is up to $90 per mile, compared to $58 per mile for the M113.
On 21 March 2013, the Army issued a draft request for proposals (RFP) for the AMPV. The RFP proposed a $1.46 billion contract for design and development phases. The engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase would build 29 prototypes over four years from 2014 through 2017 for $388 million. Low-rate initial production (LRIP) would be from 2018 to 2020 at $1.08 billion for 289 production models. After 2020, the Army planned to buy another 2,618 vehicles over ten years for a total of 2,907 AMPVs. Cost per vehicle is not to exceed $1.8 million, totalling $4.7 billion for the entire fleet. As with the revised GCV program, one development contract will be awarded to one company.
On 1 October 2013, the Army released a new draft RFP, delaying the start of the program by one year and raising the development costs by several hundred million dollars. The new document said the Army planned to award a five-year EMD contract in May 2014 to one contractor, which will manufacture 29 vehicles for government testing, followed by a three-year LRIP contract starting in 2020. The EMD phase was extended from FY 2015 to FY 2019, and raised the cost to build 29 prototypes to $458 million. Expenditures for three years of LRIP for 289 vehicles were $244 million the first year, $479 million the second year, and $505 million the third year, totaling an increase to $1.2 billion for low-rate production. The AMPV will cost $1.68 billion before full-rate production begins, an increase from $1.46 billion previously. The new draft did not change the total amount of vehicles desired and does not include an average unit manufacturing cost. Congress approved $116 million for the program in the Army's FY 2014 budget.
The AMPV has a relatively long production schedule for a non-developmental vehicle of 13 years: 3 years for low-rate production and 10 years for full-rate production. The production plan was partly based on budgetary constraints, but also to be able to speed up production in the event of war or another contingency. 33 percent of an Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT) is made up of M113s, which are not used in combat operations because they are less mobile and poorly protected than other combat vehicles in an ABCT. Full-rate production should build just under 300 AMPV vehicles per year, but the ability is there to quickly increase production if an ABCT needed to deploy to combat. Letting industry build as fast as possible regularly only to stop it later is seen as irresponsible.
On 26 November 2013, the Army released the official AMPV EMD phase RFP. Despite sequestration budget cuts, the program is maintaining its previously stated goal of 2,907 vehicles at $1.8 million each built over 13 years. A 5-year EMD contract was to be awarded to one manufacturer in May 2014 to produce 29 vehicles for testing, which will be followed by a 3-year LRIP contract in 2020. Although the October draft RFP raised the cost of the EMD phase to $458 million, the official November RFP lowered it to $436 million. Annual expenditures for the EMD phase are $70 million in FY 2015, $174 million in FY 2016, $114 million in FY 2017, $64 million in FY 2018, and $14 million in FY 2019. The RFP also contains an Optional Exchange Vehicle (OEV) program to exchange up to 78 vehicles during the EMD phase for AMPVs. 39 Bradley vehicles of versions previous to the current M2A3/M3A3 configurations and 39 M113s not including the M113 AMEV can be exchanged by the government to the contractor for credit.
On 14 February 2014, General Dynamics filed a protest with the Army Material Command on grounds that AMPV requirements had been written to favor a chassis based on the BAE Systems Bradley Fighting Vehicle, making it more difficult for their Stryker designs or other foreign designs to compete in the program. They cite the option of using excess Bradleys as optional exchange vehicles to fit new communications and protection packages onto, which is difficult for a competitor not offering the chassis; there are enough excess Bradleys to be rebuilt to make up half the projected AMPV fleet, which would dramatically reduce costs. The Army has Strykers in its inventory but none that can be spared for the program, and they aren't able to be offered as OEVs. Other grievances include the Army not providing performance data on Bradley components outside of BAE, with which General Dynamics could use to develop its tracked offering, and mobility requirements that exclude wheeled vehicles. The mobility requirement is for the AMPV to travel with the Abrams and Bradley IFV cross-country, which tracked vehicles excel at, while wheeled vehicles travel better on roads. The Army's NATO mobility model showed that the wheeled Stryker can traverse 96 percent of the terrain the M113 can cross; the remaining 4 percent includes very soft ground that wheels can sink into. In 2008, that mobility was deemed acceptable because commanders could usually find a way around what terrain couldn't be traversed. However, AMPV mobility requirements call for a vehicle that can go 100 percent of places the M113 is able to. BAE disagrees with General Dynamics, saying the Army's changed mobility requirements of a zero turning radius to accepting a larger turning radius could accommodate a wheeled design. They say requirements do not specify a Bradley-based vehicle because a pure Bradley solution would not meet them; the AMPV's survivability requirements are higher than that of an M2 equipped with the Bradley Urban Survival Kit (BUSK) III. If sequestration budget cuts return in 2016, the Army may have to resort to buying a mix of modified Bradley and Stryker vehicles to fill the AMPV requirement. Navistar Defense is also offering its MaxxPro MRAP to fulfill part of the AMPV role. The idea is to replace the M113 sooner with the more survivable mine-resistant MaxxPro until the AMPV can be fielded in 2020. The Army is already planning to keep 2,633 MaxxPro Dash vehicles and 301 MaxxPro ambulances, most in prepositioned stocks. Continuing to use the MaxxPro would save sustainment costs and give the vehicle class a role following their service in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Army Material Command denied General Dynamics' protest on 4 April 2014. Their response was that although BAE had an advantage being the manufacturers of the Bradley and M113, the government was not required to neutralize that and that does not constitute preferential treatment. Regarding OEVs, the Army Material Command clarified that they may not specifically be used for conversion but could still be exchanged for foreign sales or be scrapped, which would be less cost-effective. General Dynamics could have gone to the Government Accountability Office with its protest, or simply withdrew from the competition.
On 14 April 2014, General Dynamics released a statement saying they wouldn't file a protest with the GAO, but would still be engaged in talks with Congress and the Department of Defense. The decision to file a protest with the Army before they even formally submitted a vehicle proposal was unusual, as was their decision to not go to the GAO afterwards. The company may believe it has a better chance of gaining support through Congress, which favors a strategy of buying a mix of both Stryker and Bradley vehicles, and would be less likely to act if the dispute was brought to the GAO to avoid affecting the outcome of the protest. AMPV proposals were due by 28 May 2014. General Dynamics also favors the mixed Bradley/Stryker AMPV acquisition idea, saying a combination fleet would match missions with Bradley and Double V-hull (DVH) Stryker strengths to quickly provide enhanced survivability and lower logistics costs. Both vehicle fleets are being improved through engineering change proposal (ECP) and using both would sustain their industrial bases. The Stryker M1135 NBC Reconnaissance Vehicle is already organic within ABCTs, and the M1133 Medical Evacuation Vehicle deployed with an ABCT to Iraq in 2009. Using the wheeled Stryker for to perform some AMPV missions would offset costs associated with maintaining tracked vehicles; a company analysis concluded that a mixed fleet would save billions of dollars through lower life-cycle costs compared to one fleet of either solution. The Stryker family of vehicles already includes all AMPV versions, except medical treatment, so "up-front" availability of those vehicles would shorten development timelines and allow the M113 to be replaced quicker.
On 1 May 2014, the House Armed Services Committee Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee passed its markup of the FY 2015 budget. Language pertaining to the AMPV approved 80 percent of requested funding, but would withhold 20 percent until the Army submitted a report on the program by 1 May 2015. The report requests a study on replacing M113 vehicles in formations separate from frontline fighting, rather than just in armored brigades, and the feasibility of a wheeled vehicle being used for the medical evacuation role. This works into General Dynamics' suggestion of a split buy, using tracked Bradley-type vehicles for mobility missions while having wheeled Strykers as an armored ambulance and for support vehicle missions not assigned to combat brigades. Although a split buy may be considered, with lower-mobility vehicles serving in rear-echelon units outside of armored brigades, the Army is unlikely to procure a mix of tracked and wheeled armored vehicles within an ABCT itself due to risk of mobility differences hindering cross-country maneuvering and mechanical differences increasing maintenance demands. General Dynamics claims that using the Stryker medical evacuation vehicle would save $2 billion in life cycle costs and that it is smoother and quicker than a tracked vehicle in the role. Navistar is also pitching its wheeled MaxxPro MRAP as a mixed fleet solution. With upgraded suspension and a more powerful engine, the company says the Army could get proven mobility and survivability performance to replace M113s for units above brigade level not close to the fight from vehicles that are already paid for and delivered.
On 28 May 2014, BAE Systems submitted their proposal for the AMPV competition. Their submission is based on Bradley and Paladin Integrated Management designs to meet force protection and all-terrain mobility requirements with maximum commonality within the family of vehicles. The BAE AMPV team includes: DRS Technologies for power management, distribution, and integration; Northrop Grumman for Mission Command Mission Equipment Package design and integration; Air Methods Corporation for medical evacuation and treatment subsystems; and Red River Army Depot for vehicle teardown and component remanufacture. A 52-month EMD contract is to be awarded in January 2015, with prototypes delivered after 24 months. General Dynamics declined to submit an offering and announced it would not compete in the program, citing requirements and other provisions did not allow them to provide a competitive solution. The company also ruled out bringing their protest to the Federal Circuit Court so they could pursue other options, including their mixed fleet idea to include Stryker medical vehicles.
The Senate Appropriations Committee may include language in its 2015 defense appropriations bill that prohibits the Army from funding the medical evacuation variant of the AMPV. This is due to lobbying from General Dynamics to Congress in order to get the Stryker incorporated into future Army vehicle plans, with the Senate claiming time and funding may be wasted on developing a new medical evacuation variant when "a wheeled combat vehicle has successfully deployed in combat with armored brigade combat teams," referencing Stryker medical vehicles deployed with some heavy brigades in Iraq. The Army said that this would require them to compete that part of the program separately, write a new RFP, and come up with a new acquisition strategy, independent cost estimate, and acquisition decision memorandum. This could potentially cost an additional $95 million, delay the program at least two years, and would take money away from Abrams, Bradley, and Stryker modernization efforts.
There are to be five versions of the AMPV:
- General Purpose (GP): Replaces M113A3 APC. Requirements are for 2 crew and 6 troops, be configured to carry one litter, and mount a crew served weapon. Tasks include conducting logistics package escort, emergency resupply, casualty evacuation, and security for medical evacuation. 522 planned.
- Medical Evacuation Vehicles (MEV): Replaces M113 AMEV. Requirements are for 3 crew and able to have either 6 ambulatory patients, 4 litter patients, or 3 ambulatory patients and 2 litter patients. It must also have medical equipment sets and environmental cooling. Tasks include conducting medical evacuation from the point of injury to an aid station and medical resupply replenishment. 790 planned.
- Medical Treatment Vehicle (MTV): Replaces M577A3 Medical Vehicle. Requirements are for 4 crew and one litter patient, as well as medical equipment sets and environmental cooling. Tasks include serving as the forward aid station, main aid station, and the battalion aid station. 216 planned.
- Mortar Carrier Vehicle (MCV): Replaces M1064A3 Mortar Carrier. Requirements are for 2 crew and 2 mortar crew, with a 120 mm mortar and 69 mortar shells. The task is to provide indirect mortar fire. 386 planned.
- Mission Command (MCmd): Replaces M1068A3 Command Post Carrier. Requirements are for 2 crew, 2 operators, and a mount for a crew served weapon. The task is to serve as a command post. 993 planned.
- BAE Systems Turretless Bradley - BAE is offering a turretless version of their Bradley Fighting Vehicle.
- General Dynamics Stryker - General Dynamics was offering a tracked version of their Stryker APC, but then offered the wheeled version of the Stryker.
- Navistar Defense Maxxpro - Navistar is offering a modified version their wheeled MaxxPro MRAP.
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- US Army Looks To Delay, Increase Cost of AMPV Program - Defensenews.com, 2 October 2013
- Army 2015 Budget Kills GCV, Cuts Readiness - DoDBuzz.com, 4 March 2014
- FY15 Army budget, request includes small pay raise, 490K end strength - Army.mil, 4 March 2014
- Army Mulls Trading New Vehicles for Upgrades to Old Ones - DoDBuzz.com, 31 October 2013
- Abrams Dieselization Project: Doing the Math - Defensemedianetwork.com, 7 November 2013
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- Army envisions AMPV production spike for emergency contingencies - Janes.com, 22 October 2013
- Army releases RFP for new armored vehicle - Armytimes.com, 26 November 2013
- Army Releases Final RFP for Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) - Defensemedianetwork.com, 10 December 2013
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- Tank Wars: General Dynamics Won’t Protest AMPV To GAO, Targets Hill - Breakingdefense.com, 15 April 2014
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- HASC Throws General Dynamics Little Bone On AMPV - Breakingdefense.com, 1 May 2014
- MRAPs Join Competition to Replace Troop Carriers - Military.com, 20 May 2014
- BAE Systems Submits Bid for Highly Survivable, Affordable Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle - BAE news release, 28 May 2014
- GDLS Won’t Compete in Army’s AMPV Program - DoDBuzz.com, 29 May 2014
- US Armored Vehicle Battle Intensifies - Defensenews.com, 29 June 2014
- "GD's Tracked Stryker Aims To Knock BAE Out In Race to Replace M-113". Defense.AOL.com, 2 November 2012.
- Industry to Army: The Vehicles You Own Can Perform Future Missions - Nationaldefensemagazine.org, 24 October 2013