Army signals foreign-built prototypes OK for next-gen truck program

By Ethan Sterenfeld / November 24, 2021 at 11:28 AM

Foreign-built prototypes should be eligible for inclusion in the upcoming competition to provide a new suite of heavy tactical trucks for the Army, according to a recently released set of government responses to industry questions about the program.

"The Buy American Act will not apply to the prototype project" for the Common Tactical Truck, the government stated in a document released Nov. 18. The Army plans to begin an Other Transaction Authority prototyping process with three companies in fiscal year 2022.

Allowing foreign-built prototypes and waiving some Buy American Act rules is normal in the OTA prototyping process, according to Bill Greenwalt, a non-resident senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a former Senate staffer.

"The Buy American Act is incredibly compliance-intensive, and the government went to OTA prototypes for a reason," Greenwalt said. "Let's do something fast, let's put things together, let's get solutions."

The Army has not created any requirements that a certain fraction of the CTT, by weight or cost, be produced in the United States, according to one of the responses.

"There is no requirement to produce a certain percentage in weight or cost in the U.S.," the Army wrote.

The CTT program seeks to increase competition for heavy tactical vehicles by increasing commonality with commercial trucks and simplifying the requirements process. The "Common" in CTT refers to commonality across the variants -- the CTT could replace five different chassis that are in use today -- and with commercial technology.

At least one interested competitor, Rheinmetall, has said that it would use foreign-built prototypes in the prototype process before standing up a factory in the United States for production.

The Army has not decided whether the CTT should be designed to accommodate a future upgrade to full electric technology, according to the responses to industry questions. But the government seeks enough commonality with commercial technology "to facilitate future technology insertion" of electric vehicle capabilities.

Many characteristics of the CTT and the acquisition process are still up in the air, according to the questions and responses. The government responded "TBD" to questions on a range of topics: joint service participation, technical data rights, robotic technology and acquisition quantities.

The Army will use its own organic maintenance capabilities for the trucks, rather than outsourcing maintenance to the dealer networks of commercial manufacturers, according to one of the responses.