(Adds BAE comment)
By Andrea Shalal
WASHINGTON, April 25 The Government
Accountability Office on Friday told lawmakers the U.S. Army
made a "sound" decision when it decided to skip prototypes in a
$6 billion competition for a new combat vehicle that was
unsuccessfully challenged by General Dynamics Corp.
The GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, said the Army
had taken other actions to reduce cost and risk on the new
vehicle program, including reducing requirements and opting to
modify an existing vehicle.
General Dynamics says the terms of the competition favor the
tracked Bradley Fighting Vehicle made by Britain's BAE Systems
Plc over its wheeled Stryker vehicle, but the Army
earlier this month rejected a protest filed by General Dynamics.
The GAO agency is required by law to review any Pentagon
decision to waive a 2009 federal law that is aimed at saving
money and time by requiring competitive prototypes before work
starts on any new major weapons programs.
In this case, GAO said, the Army had concluded that it would
cost between $198 million to $341 million to build up to six
vehicle prototypes and would add 19 to 31 months to the
program's schedule while generating no benefits.
The Pentagon notified Congress last November that it had
waived the prototyping requirement for the Army's Armored
Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) program due to "excessive cost,"
triggering a mandatory review by GAO.
GAO said that in justifying the lack of prototypes, the Army
and Pentagon cited market research that found the requirements
for the new vehicle could be met by modifying existing combat
vehicles with mission packages that had already been fielded and
The agency said it reviewed the Army's cost-benefit analysis
and found it be consistent with Pentagon guidelines. It said the
Army could have more fully evaluated the potential benefits of
reducing development risks through prototyping but that its
decision to skip prototypes for the new vehicle appeared sound.
General Dynamics spokesman Pete Keating said the GAO report
provided further evidence that the Army wanted to use the BAE
vehicle and was not open to other entrants.
"This is clear evidence that the competition and
requirements are structured in such a way that ... we could not
compete," Keating said. He said the Army had also rebuffed
General Dynamics' efforts to obtain data on the Bradley vehicles
so it could produce its own modified version.
Several lawmakers who back General Dynamics have said they
hope to draft legislation that would require the Army to buy a
mixed fleet of modified Bradley and Stryker vehicles for the new
armored combat vehicle program.
Brian Roehrkasse, spokesman for BAE Systems, said the GAO
report was consistent with the Army's statements that it plans
to select a single vendor for development of the new vehicle.
"Clearly the Army expects the offerings to compete on their
substantiated performance and values the importance of a low
risk, cost effective solution that meets the Army's critical
survivability requirements," he said.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and