Small Michigan firm bids for OMFV

By Ethan Sterenfeld / April 21, 2021 at 1:46 PM

Mettle Ops, a small defense firm that has never built a vehicle, has bid for the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle, the replacement for the Bradley that is expected to be one of the Army's largest ground programs for decades to come.

“Mettle Ops, a woman-owned, service-disabled, veteran-owned, disadvantaged small business based out of Michigan, has taken the meaning of non-traditional approach to a new level with their recent submission for the preliminary design of the US Army’s Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle,” according to a press release from the company.

The company submitted a bid for phase two of the current OMFV acquisition process, the concept design phase. This is the fifth bid that Inside Defense has confirmed, and the first to be submitted by a company that is not a large defense contractor.

The Army has said that it plans to award up to five contracts for the concept design phase. The service expected some “non-traditional” companies to bid for the program, Maj. Gen. Ross Coffman, director of the Next Generation Combat Vehicles Cross-Functional Team, said last month.

Mettle Ops has teamed with “leading industry experts” for the program, although they declined to name them.

“Who they are is a big part of our competitive advantage,” PJ McMullen, a company spokesman, wrote in an email.

A contract for the concept design phase will be worth $61.6 million over 15 months, the Army has said. That is more than the combined value of the three previous contracts that Mettle Ops lists in a document about its capabilities.

So could a company of this size compete not just for the concept design phase, but in the rest of the competition, which would require detailed designs and prototyping of next-generation combat vehicles? The company claims that it is a viable competitor.

“Mettle Ops already has a wide range of manufacturing partners with capabilities that can readily take our OMFV design if selected by the US Government for further development in Phase III and build the required prototypes for testing in Phase IV,” McMullen wrote in an email.

Phases three and four are the detailed design and prototyping phases of the competition, respectively.

The company claims that the fact it is not a large original equipment manufacturer will allow it to buy the most innovative technologies on the market. It plans to focus on autonomy and modularity in its design, two features that the Army has said it wants.

“The Mettle Ops approach emphasizes autonomy, hybrid electric, and robotics,” the company’s press release stated.