General Dynamics opts to skip GAO protest over Army vehicle plan

WASHINGTON, April 15 Tue Apr 15, 2014 12:47am EDT

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WASHINGTON, April 15 (Reuters) - General Dynamics Corp said late Monday it would not ask the congressional Government Accountability Office to rule on a U.S. Army vehicle competition that it says is skewed to favor its competitor, Britain's BAE Systems Plc.

The Army on April 4 rejected a protest that General Dynamics had filed with it over the rules for a multibillion dollar competition for a new armored vehicle, starting a 10-day clock for General Dynamics to take its concerns to the next level through a formal protest with the GAO.

The company said it would continue to fight for changes in the Army's handling of a competition for a new Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) before companies submit their bids in late May. No additional details were provided.

"We will continue to discuss the AMPV program with the U.S. Department of Defense and the Congress. We do not believe a GAO protest is the right forum for this issue and we will not file one," General Dynamics spokesman Pete Keating said in a statement.

The Army's new AMPV, one of few new weapons development programs available for U.S. ground vehicle makers, is intended to replace nearly 2,900 Vietnam-era M113 infantry carriers at a cost of $5 billion to nearly $7 billion.

The stakes are high for industry given that the Army canceled plans for a second, even larger combat vehicle competition, and demand is down given tough budget pressures and the expected withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.

General Dynamics has argued that the Army's request for proposals for the new armored vehicle favors BAE's tracked Bradley Fighting Vehicle while putting General Dynamics wheeled Stryker vehicles at a disadvantage.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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