WASHINGTON Ford Motor Co (F.N) said on Monday it had decided not to participate in a new Pentagon competition to replace the U.S. military's fleet of workhorse Humvee vehicles.
Ford said it had examined a possible joint bid with defense contractor Raytheon Co (RTN.N) and Future Force, a private maker of lightweight armor, but the three companies decided they could not meet the U.S. Army's proposed schedule for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) program.
"Ford, Raytheon and Future Force ... have reviewed the request for Proposal for the JLTV program and decided to pass because we are unable to meet the program's timing requirements," said Ford spokesman Mike Levine.
Levine declined comment on when Ford first became interested in the joint vehicle program, which is being led by the Army.
The trucks will be used by both the Army and Marines.
He said Ford had assembled the team that reviewed a possible bid.
Raytheon declined comment, referring all questions to Ford.
Industry sources said Ford's decision to skip the competition was a setback for some Army officials who had hoped to drive down costs and move toward more commercial-type truck production by bringing in the No. 2 U.S. automaker.
The Army had no immediate comment.
The service issued a request for proposals on January 26 for the multibillion-dollar program, one of few new development programs available to U.S. companies as the Pentagon begins to implement $487 billion in cuts to planned spending over the next decade.
In the request, the Army said it planned to award up to three contracts this summer for work on 22 prototypes of the new truck to be used by the Army and Marine Corps.
Two other truck makers, Navistar International Corp (NAV.N) and Oshkosh Corp (OSK.N), have expressed interest in the contest, as have several more traditional defense companies: Britain's BAE Systems (BAES.L), General Dynamics Corp (GD.N) teamed with privately held AM General, and Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N).
Industry executives had expressed concerns last year about the terms of the competition, prompting some speculation that companies could skip the competition altogether unless the Army backed off plans that would shift more risk to industry.
The Army is now looking for vehicles that cost around $250,000 each, below previous estimates that put the cost of each vehicle at well above $300,000.
(Reporting By Andrea Shalal-Esa; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)