ARLINGTON, Va., July 28 (UPI) -- Two of the major companies vying for a U.S. Army contract to develop and supply a new ground combat vehicle have beefed up their expert teams as the contest gets under way.
BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman, partners in the bid, announced they were taking additional members on board to bolster their GCV team for the development of the tough new blast-resistant combat vehicle.
The U.S. Army's GCV competition for a more fuel-efficient and safer hardware is seen by industry analysts as a critical test of the defense industry's capacity for innovation and development, with huge rewards awaiting the winner in the international marketplace.
The new vehicle is intended to operate safely in battlefield environment that may be exposed to improvised explosive devices, as in the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan and to some extent in Iraq, Somalia and other areas of insurgent activity.
U.S. forces are also helping Colombian military fight the heavily armed drug cartels in Colombia's jungle that are seen behind the cocaine trail to North America.
The GCV program is a development effort headed by the U.S. Army to develop the first combat vehicle designed from the ground up to operate in an IED-threat environment.
"We have built a team that has extensive experience and innovation in the development and production of combat systems and subsystems," said Mark Signorelli, vice president and general manager of Ground Combat Vehicles at BAE Systems.
"With this team we bring more to our customer by providing a vehicle that will meet the Army's requirements for a highly survivable platform that can adapt to a constantly evolving and changing operational environment; from humanitarian relief to a full-scale battlefield," he said.
The bid partners say each member of the team will bring a different capability to GCV that will help to strengthen the BAE Systems-Northrop Grumman offering.
As the prime contractor, BAE Systems will provide the overall program management and systems integration for GCV and will also be responsible for providing the vehicle design, structure, logistical support as well as the readiness and sustainment of the platform.
Northrop Grumman will serve as the command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance lead, the companies said in a statement.
QinetiQ North America will provide the electric drive propulsion system or E-X-Drive for Ground Combat Vehicles. The E-X-Drive is the key component of the hybrid electric drive system, which minimizes electrical demand, saves on vehicle fuel costs, improves reliability, provides higher dash speed and acceleration and increased on-board and off-board power. Saft will provide the energy storage system for the GCV.
The BAE Systems-Northrop Grumman GCV offering will be the first combat vehicle designed from the ground up to operate in an IED-threat environment. The companies say the team's offering will provide survivability, mobility and versatility that will address the customer's operational requirements.
The GCV mine survivability will exceed that of a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected armored vehicle, while the enhanced mobility capabilities will allow the GCV to operate in urban and cross-country environments.
The team's vehicle will also have an integrated electronic network capability and embedded intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets to connect the warfighters.
The open architecture electronics will also be adaptable to future network upgrades as new technologies mature. Developments on the vehicle so far suggest that its modular armor system will allow the unit commander to rapidly apply or remove kits in the field to adjust to the tactical situation.