Oshkosh Defense formally protests Army’s $8.7B JLTV contract

JLTV (1)

Shown here is a photo of the Army’s JLTV. (US Army)

WASHINGTON — Oshkosh Defense is protesting the US Army’s decision to move Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) production over to AM General under a new multi-billion deal, saying the company has “significant concerns” about how the competing bids were evaluated.

Edward Goldstein, the managing associate general counsel with the Government Accountability Office, confirmed to Breaking Defense that a law firm representing Oshkosh Defense filed a contract protest today and that his office will make a decision by June 14.

Tim Bleck, executive vice president Oshkosh Corporation and president Oshkosh Defense, said in a statement, “After participating in the government’s post-award debriefing process, we have significant concerns regarding the evaluation of the proposals under the solicitation that support an independent review. We believe the government’s evaluation did not properly review the financial, technical, and manufacturing capabilities offered to select the best value and lowest risk solution to deliver the JLTV.”

Some close observers of the program have been expecting a protest since February when the service awarded AM General with a deal worth up to $8.66 billion over the next decade for up to 20,682 JLTVs and 9,883 trailers. Oshkosh Defense had been the incumbent vehicle producer since 2015. Inside Defense earlier reported today’s protest.

The Army did not immediately respond to questions about today’s news but over the past several weeks it has steered away from questions about its decision, while also noting that it anticipates saving money by moving the work over to AM General. 

“Unit prices are considered competition sensitive until the post award debriefings are complete and the protest window is closed; absent any protest,” Michael Sprang, the project manager with the Joint Program Office Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, wrote in Feb. 14 email in response to Breaking Defense’s questions.

However, he said, “the Army succeeded in obtaining a lower cost than the independent government cost estimate through the recompete” and noted that the competition was never intended to include dollars for a company to pay for the “setting up or improving” its JLTV production line. That burden was on them.

It is not clear if the Army has told AM General to stop work on the new JLTV A2 production line, but Sprang said last week such a decision would result in a “day-to-day delay initiating production.” 

Regardless of what the GAO decides about the fate of the JLTV A2 contract, Oshkosh Defense is expected to continue producing the earlier model though 2025 while AM General stands up its new facility and ramps up production.

Meanwhile, last week Breaking Defense spoke to AM General CEO Jim Cannon about its winning bid, and he said the company was already moving out on the contract. 

“We leaned forward in the saddle through this whole process to get all the planning, permitting… stuff out of the way before an announcement was ever made,” Cannon said. “So, when the announcement came, literally the next day, we’re breaking ground” to expand an existing production facility at its Mishawaka Manufacturing Campus in Indiana.

“We’re not under a stop work order,” he said at the time of the possibility of a protest-related pause. “[That] doesn’t mean we won’t be tomorrow, but we’re not under a stop work order.”

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