Nov. 18 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army will seek solicitations to build the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle, a replacement for the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, the branch announced.
A competitive request for proposals is expected to be released on or about Dec. 18, Brig. Gen. Ross Coffman, director of the Next Generation Combat Vehicles Cross-Functional Team, said this week.
The vehicle's name derives from one of the features demanded by the Army -- its capability to engage in close combat and then be piloted remotely after troops disembark.
The request for proposals will ask for concept designs, and up to five companies will be awarded contracts in June 2021, with a detailed design expected by early 2023, Coffman said.
An earlier plan to seek prototypes from at least two competing companies was delayed when only one, General Dynamics Land Systems, submitted a bid.
The Army restarted the program in January 2020 to ensure more competition, and several builders, including General Dynamics, Germany's Rheinmetall and BAE Systems, have expressed interest.
The planned OMFV is the first large acquisition effort to come from Army Futures Command, established in 2018 to develop advanced vehicles and equipment for the military.
About $4.6 billion, through 2026, has been invested in the OMFV program, which places survivability as the vehicles' top priority.
"We will fight outnumbered and we must possess the technology that allows us to do that," Coffman said. "It needs to be able to defeat those capabilities ... We cannot modernize to parity. We must modernize for overmatch and that's got to be our focus. Anything less than that is unacceptable."
The new vehicle will replace the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, introduced in 1981 and regarded as reaching the end of its technological capabilities.