July 17 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army announced a request for proposals on Friday for preliminary designs of the tank meant to replace the long-serving M-2 Bradley tank.
Digital designs from up to five contractors will be chosen to compete in a preliminary design review of the vehicle, currently referred to as the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle. The request is the first phase of a five-phase process to choose a new design.
"We are looking forward to receiving feedback and learning from industry what's in the realm of the possible as we continue to develop this truly transformational vehicle for our soldiers," Maj. Gen. Brian Cummings, program executive officer for Ground Combat Systems, said in a statement.
The competition has been delayed several times but now is said to be on track to award the five preliminary contracts in June 2021.
The M-2 Bradley, in use since 1981, is "widely considered to have reached the technological limits of its capacity to accommodate new electronics, armor, and defense systems," a Congressional Research Service report said earlier this week.
The Army's Future Combat System Program and the Ground Combat Vehicle Program "were cancelled for programmatic and cost-associated reasons," the report said.
In 2018, the Army established its Army Futures Command, intended to establish unity of command and effort while consolidating the Army's modernization process in one office and playing a major role in the OMFV's development, the report says.
In 2020, the program was cancelled, then restarted in April with new OMFV program guidance to industry featuring the five-phased approach, according to the report.
The Army has requested $327.73 million in Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation [RDT&E] funding for the OMFV program in its Fiscal Year 2021 budget request.