A small Michigan company has officially withdrawn from the Army's Ground Combat Vehicle competition, blaming the service's expensive and “drawn-out” acquisition plan.
Advanced Defense Vehicle Systems of Lake Orion, MI, entered the GCV competition last year following the issuance of the program's first request for proposals. The company was denied a chance to participate in the process and filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office, stating that the process was unfairly tilted toward larger companies.
But the initial RFP was terminated in favor of a new one and ADVS ended its protest while setting its sights on competing again.
Also at issue was the fact ADVS proposed a wheeled GCV solution. Many experts and military officials believe the GCV's armor and payload requirements drive it toward a tracked solution.
Now, as the government prepares to receive responses to its RFP on Jan. 21, ADVS has pulled out of the competition citing concerns over the Army's seven-year time frame for the vehicle.
“This drawn-out Army process does not fit with ADVS' rapid development and fielding capabilities,” chief executive officer James LeBlanc said in a statement. It adds that “ADVS has shown with similar combat armored vehicles for foreign military use and with other major weapon system contracts that they can design, develop, integrate, prototype and field such an advanced system in one to two years.”
Defense consultant Mark Lott, former deputy commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Development Command, told InsideDefense.com today he was authorized to speak on behalf of ADVS by company owner James LeBlanc. “The bid process is so detailed, so long, and so expensive that it just doesn't make sense,” Lott said. “This is a very small company and I think they absolutely have the best solution, but this just doesn't fit their business model.”
Lott also said his experience in defense acquisitions leads him to believe that the program's estimated cost of $1.35 billion is not going to be well-received in the current fiscal environment. “I don't think this thing is going to make it across the river,” he said. “I just don't think it will come back from Congress approved.”
Lott said LeBlanc, a personal friend, also told him he believed the acquisition process was stacked in favor of larger companies. “There's no question it is,” Lott said. “These huge companies can spend more money, they have huge staffs and they can just outclass the smaller guy even though he has the better product.”
The statement from ADVS also offered a few words of wisdom for the Pentagon. “While ADVS supports the Army's concept, they encourage the U.S. Department of Defense to review the ADVS strategies and past performance and consider ways of developing and fielding vehicles quicker and more economically,” the release states. “Such a rapid process is counter to the current GCV strategy; though supportive of the philosophy of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.”