The Army's Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle program will replace the service's M113 armored personnel carrier. (Army)
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WASHINGTON — After releasing several draft request for proposal documents over the past year, on Tuesday the Army finally released the final specs for the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle’s engineering and manufacturing development phase.
Despite sequestration and the service’s need to cut billions of dollars from its budget in the coming years, the program appears to be soldiering on, with a solid requirement of 2,907 vehicles to be built over 13 years at roughly $1.8 million apiece.
In October, the Army announced it intended to delay the start of the program by a year while raising developmental costs by several hundred million dollars in its quest to replace thousands of Vietnam War-era M113 tracked armored personnel carriers.
The new document says the Army plans to award a five-year EMD contract in May 2014 to one contractor who will manufacture 29 vehicles for government testing, followed by a three-year low-rate initial production contract beginning in 2020.
Earlier documents estimated the EMD phase would run from fiscal 2014 to 2017 and cost $388 million. But the final plan stretches that out while adding to the overall price tag. The EMD phase will run from fiscal 2015 to 2019 and cost $458 million to develop and build the 29 prototypes.
The document released Tuesday lowered that number slightly to $436 million.
Likewise, whereas the estimate for the LRIP order of 289 vehicles between 2018 and 2020 was initially pegged at $1.08 billion, the Tuesday RFP lists three options for the LRIP years totaling $1.2 billion, giving the program a $1.68 billion budget before full-rate production begins.
The Army requested $116 million in its fiscal 2014 budget for development activities for the AMPV, which Congress approved.
The LRIP order will go to only one winner, and BAE Systems and General Dynamics are vying for the final prize.
BAE is offering a variant of its turretless Bradley, while General Dynamics is offering either its wheeled double V-hull Stryker or a new tracked version of the Stryker.
The AMPV has taken on increasing importance in recent months as the Army appears to be moving away from developing the costly — and increasingly heavy — ground combat vehicle as its primary heavy infantry carrier of the future.
What that will mean for the AMPV, and how much of the program will survive the current budget environment, likely will not become clear for several months as the military services work through their five-year budget proposals and have them reviewed by the secretary of defense.