Army, industry slam CBO’s scathing GCV report

Defense companies with Ground Combat Vehicle development contracts claim the Congressional Budget Office didn't analyze the correct model for its study.

The two defense companies who have won $400 million contracts from the Army to help design the Ground Combat Vehicle have dismissed the scathing GCV report done by the Congressional Budget Office saying its analysts used the wrong vehicle in its analysis.

Officials from BAE Systems and General Dynamics Land Systems said the CBO used the wrong notional model of the GCV that doesn’t account for the change in requirements made by the Army or the advancements made in the technology development phase of the program. Industry representatives also criticized the way in which the CBO weighted their comparison of the GCV.

The CBO report compared the GCV against existing vehicles to include an upgarded Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV), the Israeli Namer Armored Personnel Carrier, the German Puma IFV, and the current Bradley IFV. Taking into account cost, survivability, mobility and lethality, the CBO ranked the GCV below each alternative to include the current Bradley.

Along with BAE Systems and General Dynamics, the Army had its own response to the report that was issued just a week prior to Congressional budget submissions. The service highlighted its own report comparing the GCV against many of the same vehicles. In it, the Army found that none of the existing vehicles could match the requirements the service seeks in replace the Bradley IFV.

The Army tested the GCV against these existing infantry fighting vehicles and armored personnel carriers in 2012 at White Sands Missile Range during a Network Integration Evaluation.

“Currently fielded vehicles are optimized for performance within their expected. operating environments, but are limited with regard to specific GCV capability performance areas,” said Ashley Givens, an Army spokesman, in a statement. “Although all assessed [Non-Developmental Vehicles] met some of the critical GCV requirements, none met the minimum set of GCV requirements without needing significant redesign.”

One of those key requirements is carrying nine squad members inside the vehicle. Industry representatives claim the CBO did not give this requirement enough weight inside their analysis. On a 100 percent scale, the CBO gave the maximum number of passengers a weight of 10 percent. Other factors such as “protection and survivability” and “lethality” received 40 percent and 30 percent respectively.

Lethality is another issue the defense companies had with the report. The CBO used a notional vehicle with a 25 mm cannon for its analysis rather than the 30 mm cannon that Army officials now plan to mount to its top. CBO started the study before this change was made.

“With 30 percent of the score going to lethality, this tips the scale heavily in favor of Puma, the only vehicle in their study with a 30mm cannon,” said Peter Keating, a spokesman for General Dynamics Land Systems, in a statement.

One aspect the CBO does give the GCV program credit is the price. By using a cost figure of $28.8 billion for the program, the CBO is assuming the Army can drop the per vehicle cost down to $13 million. However, the Pentagon’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation agency estimated in 2011 the GCV could cost $16 to $17 million per vehicle.

In determining the notional GCV that the CBO used in its study, the analysts anticipated the program will have to make trades in capabilities in order to meet that $13 million ceiling. Those trades helped lead the CBO to determine that an upgraded Bradley or a Puma would provide the Army a better vehicle for more than half the cost.

Industry and service leaders worry what effect the CBO report will have on future funding for the program. The Army has already decided to delay the program by extending the Technology Development phase by six months.

Service leaders have tabbed the GCV as the Army’s top vehicle modernization program. The Army plans to spend $28.8 billion to develop and build 1,748 GCVs between 2014 and 2030, according to the CBO report. Army officials hope to pick the company that will build the fleet by 2019.

The Army plans to continue to study existing vehicles and what aspects have led to success in combat, Givens said. It will also pursue technological advancements that the defense industry is pursuing in GCV’s development.

“The Army continues to fine-tune the vehicle requirements to support cost targets while continuing to evaluate requirement trades that better aligns with the goal of an affordable and achievable vehicle,” Givens said in a statement.

One such advancement is the hybrid drive that BAE is pursuing in its research. Mark Signorelli, BAE’s vice president and general manager for ground combat vehicles, said the hybrid drive would offer GCV a significant advantage over current vehicles when considering the gas costs and logistics trail.