WASHINGTON: Stryker manufacturer General Dynamics may not be a lock to upgun the eight-wheel-drive armored vehicle, the Army’s top acquisition official made clear today. “We’ve laid out four different courses of action” to improve the vehicle’s lethality, said Heidi Shyu, and some of those courses involve competition.
“It’s going to be driven by who needs it by when,” Shyu said this morning at the Atlantic Council. “[It] depends on the urgency of the need.”
Wait, hasn’t that been settled already? Doesn’t the Europe-based Second Cavalry Division want 81 vehicles fitted with 30 mm autocannon because it feels outgunned by the increasingly aggressive Russian army? Shyu suggested things were not so settled.
Certainly, General Dynamics would like to upgun a much larger portion of the Stryker fleet, with the European vehicles as the leading wedge, and two key committees on the Hill have voted sums in the $371 million to $411 million range, which would surely buy more than 81 upgrades. (The first committee to vote on the matter added a relatively modest $80 million). There’s also the critical wrinkle that the request from the 2nd Cav came as an Operational Needs Statement (ONS), but not an Urgent Operational Needs Statement (UONS).
“If the theater says ‘I’ve got to have this, I’ve got to do it as quickly as possible,’ that forces me down a different acquisition strategy, versus ‘OK, this is a capability we want with the entire quantity of 800 Strykers (and) I am OK with you taking longer,'” Shyu said. “Then obviously I go through the traditional acquisition process, I go through sources sought, I go through competition and get the best value.”
General Dynamics would definitely have an edge in any competition. First, it’s the original manufacturer of the Stryker vehicle. It’s also the only company (to our knowledge) that has not only integrated a 30mm weapon turret onto a Stryker prototype but also test-fired it in front of Army brass at Fort Benning, Ga. But the GD prototype used a Kongsberg turret and an ATK weapon, and it’s entirely possible these or other arms companies could make a bid to do business directly with the Army.