(Adds BAE statement, paragraphs 8-9)
WASHINGTON, April 3 A group of 10 U.S. lawmakers
on Thursday urged Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall to
revamp the U.S. Army's $5 billion competition for a new armored
vehicle to allow both tracked and wheeled vehicles to compete.
The letter came a day before the U.S. Army is due to rule
on a protest by General Dynamics Corp, which argues that
the Army's rules for the competition are skewed to favor BAE
Systems Plc's Bradley Fighting Vehicle, while putting
General Dynamics' wheeled Stryker vehicles at a disadvantage.
"A mixed fleet is not about choosing between companies; it
is about getting the best value," the lawmakers wrote in a
letter to Kendall. "A mixed fleet is not about picking Bradley
or Stryker; it is about fielding the correct vehicle type
depending on the mission."
The letter was signed by Republican Representatives Mike
Rogers of Alabama, Jim Jordan of Ohio Republican, and Candice
Miller of Michigan, as well as other Republicans and Democrats
from those states, where General Dynamics has large facilities.
The Army's competition for a new Armored Multi-Purpose
Vehicle (AMPV) to replace nearly 2,900 Vietnam-era M113 infantry
carriers is one of few new weapons development programs
available for U.S. ground vehicle makers. The congressional
Government Accountability Office estimates the value of the
competition at around $5 billion.
The stakes were raised after the Army canceled plans for a
separate ground combat vehicle competition which was estimated
by the GAO to cost around $37 billion.
"The Army must get this procurement right ... Given the
intensely restrictive budget environment the Army faces, the
AMPV might be the only new vehicle entering the fleet for
decades," the lawmakers said in the letter.
BAE said the Army had studied the issue for two years before
deciding on its requirements.
"Our troops will be the biggest loser if there are further
delays as they need the protected vehicle described in the
Army's AMPV requirements," BAE spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said
in a statement.
If the Army rejects General Dynamics' protest, the company
would have 10 days to lodge a protest with the GAO, which rules
on contract disputes. The company could also take its case to
federal court, although that is seen as unlikely.
General Dynamics could also opt not to participate in the
competition, which requires bids to be submitted by May 28.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and