U.S. Army Targets Vehicle Industrial Base



Over the next several years, more than a few big-ticket items in the Army’s annual budget will reach major milestones—transitioning from new-build production to long-term sustainment accounts. Overall, 37 Army systems will make that switch, moving Army dollars away from the production line to the often more complicated—and very expensive—world of spare parts, upgrades and reset contracts.
The list is being led by some assembly-line stalwarts like Bradley, Stryker, Abrams tank and Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles, which all reach the end of their production schedules over the next two years. “We’re going to really have some tough times ahead in U.S. manufacturing related to medium vehicles,” the Army’s Ground Combat Systems chief, Scott Davis, said at the Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) conference here earlier this year. To try to keep those vehicle production lines warm, the Army and industry are pushing for international sales of the Bradley, Abrams and Stryker, and have received “a fair amount of interest” from a variety of potential clients, Davis added, without identifying them. To expedite those potential sales as much as possible “would really help us address some of the gaps we see in front of us in the manufacturing base.”
One way to shore up the ground vehicle industrial base would be to move forward with the Armored Multipurpose Vehicle (AMPV) program. It would—assuming funding comes though in subsequent budgets—replace the 3,800 aging M113 infantry carriers in Heavy Brigade Combat Teams, and shore up a gap in vehicle manufacturing after the Bradley and Stryker lines go cold in 2013 and 2014. But it will not be cheap. In early assessments, the Army identified a unit cost of $2.4 million, though Davis added that the number would come down by the time the program issued contracts.
The Army reached an initial development decision Feb. 9, and has been busy evaluating existing systems that might fit the bill. Developers started with 115 different vehicles on the list, but have since winnowed it down to about seven. The end result, however, is “probably a system that the Army already owns,” Davis said. Known interested parties are General Dynamics, which wants to pitch its Stryker, and BAE Systems, which is working on a variant of the Bradley. “If [the AMPV] ends up being a capital system —for speculative purposes, a modified Bradley or Stryker—it would certainly help that manufacturing industrial base,” Davis said. “We are pressing as hard as possible to get the analysis of alternatives done ahead of where it’s currently planned so we can move onto the next step.”
Heidi Shyu, the Army’s principal deputy assistant secretary for acquisition, logistics and technology, has said her office is working on identifying the “critical” industrial base, especially second- and third-tier suppliers that provide subsystem components and can ill afford the drop-off in new work. These smaller suppliers are “actually even a bigger concern” for the Pentagon, she said at AUSA, since if they go out of business, rebuilding that supply chain will be difficult. Shyu hit on one of the recurring themes at the conference this year: the idea of the “intellectual industrial base” that Davis considers “probably the most sensitive and one that is critical to maintain” as new builds slow to just a few systems.
“Most of what we need to maintain is the intellectual know-how” to design new vehicles “so when you next time need to buy, it’s still there,” said Kevin Fahey, head of combat support and combat service support for the Army. “We have large fleets and will have large fleets in the future,” Fahey added, “so when you’re not in production one of our main challenges is spare and repair parts that come from second- and third-tier suppliers.” Following Shyu’s lead, Fahey says that his office’s primary focus is identifying critical capabilities that need to be maintained, and figuring out a way to maintain them.
As budgets tighten and the Army continues to invest in new platforms like the Ground Combat Vehicle and Joint Light Tactical Vehicle while also modernizing its communications networks, “we’re trying hard to ensure that there are sufficient sustainment dollars to sustain those big systems,” Davis said. Part of the problem, however, is that some of the newest vehicles such as the A3 Bradley and the Abrams SEP II tank will be among the most expensive to sustain, given their new electronics and sensor content.
Photo: US Army

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Monday, April 2, 2012

U.S. Army Targets Vehicle Industrial Base


Over the next several years, more than a few big-ticket items in the Army’s annual budget will reach major milestones—transitioning from new-build production to long-term sustainment accounts. Overall, 37 Army systems will make that switch, moving Army dollars away from the production line to the often more complicated—and very expensive—world of spare parts, upgrades and reset contracts.
The list is being led by some assembly-line stalwarts like Bradley, Stryker, Abrams tank and Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles, which all reach the end of their production schedules over the next two years. “We’re going to really have some tough times ahead in U.S. manufacturing related to medium vehicles,” the Army’s Ground Combat Systems chief, Scott Davis, said at the Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) conference here earlier this year. To try to keep those vehicle production lines warm, the Army and industry are pushing for international sales of the Bradley, Abrams and Stryker, and have received “a fair amount of interest” from a variety of potential clients, Davis added, without identifying them. To expedite those potential sales as much as possible “would really help us address some of the gaps we see in front of us in the manufacturing base.”
One way to shore up the ground vehicle industrial base would be to move forward with the Armored Multipurpose Vehicle (AMPV) program. It would—assuming funding comes though in subsequent budgets—replace the 3,800 aging M113 infantry carriers in Heavy Brigade Combat Teams, and shore up a gap in vehicle manufacturing after the Bradley and Stryker lines go cold in 2013 and 2014. But it will not be cheap. In early assessments, the Army identified a unit cost of $2.4 million, though Davis added that the number would come down by the time the program issued contracts.
The Army reached an initial development decision Feb. 9, and has been busy evaluating existing systems that might fit the bill. Developers started with 115 different vehicles on the list, but have since winnowed it down to about seven. The end result, however, is “probably a system that the Army already owns,” Davis said. Known interested parties are General Dynamics, which wants to pitch its Stryker, and BAE Systems, which is working on a variant of the Bradley. “If [the AMPV] ends up being a capital system —for speculative purposes, a modified Bradley or Stryker—it would certainly help that manufacturing industrial base,” Davis said. “We are pressing as hard as possible to get the analysis of alternatives done ahead of where it’s currently planned so we can move onto the next step.”
Heidi Shyu, the Army’s principal deputy assistant secretary for acquisition, logistics and technology, has said her office is working on identifying the “critical” industrial base, especially second- and third-tier suppliers that provide subsystem components and can ill afford the drop-off in new work. These smaller suppliers are “actually even a bigger concern” for the Pentagon, she said at AUSA, since if they go out of business, rebuilding that supply chain will be difficult. Shyu hit on one of the recurring themes at the conference this year: the idea of the “intellectual industrial base” that Davis considers “probably the most sensitive and one that is critical to maintain” as new builds slow to just a few systems.
“Most of what we need to maintain is the intellectual know-how” to design new vehicles “so when you next time need to buy, it’s still there,” said Kevin Fahey, head of combat support and combat service support for the Army. “We have large fleets and will have large fleets in the future,” Fahey added, “so when you’re not in production one of our main challenges is spare and repair parts that come from second- and third-tier suppliers.” Following Shyu’s lead, Fahey says that his office’s primary focus is identifying critical capabilities that need to be maintained, and figuring out a way to maintain them.
As budgets tighten and the Army continues to invest in new platforms like the Ground Combat Vehicle and Joint Light Tactical Vehicle while also modernizing its communications networks, “we’re trying hard to ensure that there are sufficient sustainment dollars to sustain those big systems,” Davis said. Part of the problem, however, is that some of the newest vehicles such as the A3 Bradley and the Abrams SEP II tank will be among the most expensive to sustain, given their new electronics and sensor content.
Photo: US Army

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