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Ford Free to Offer Proposal for Blast-Proof Trucks, Army Says

Ford Motor Co. can submit an unsolicited proposal for a potential $54 billion in work replacing U.S. military Humvees with blast-proof, all-terrain vehicles, the U.S. Army Secretary said.

Ford led a push by commercial-truck makers to challenge defense contractors for the second development phase of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program, which the Army shares with the Marine Corps. The automaker said on Feb. 6 that it won’t compete because it can’t meet the program’s deadlines.

Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford had initially proposed bearing about $400 million in costs to build production-ready prototypes without the government funding normally awarded during development, according to a presentation circulated in Congress in November. The company said its vehicle would provide better protection to troops at a lower price and weight than competitors.

“We can’t pull plugs” on a program because of one possible competitor’s claims, Army Secretary John McHugh said today at a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee. McHugh answered a question by Republican Representative Duncan Hunter of California who asked why the Army wouldn’t accept the Ford team’s offer and extend the program’s timeline.

McHugh said that, while doing so would be a “very tenuous decision,” the Army would consider an unsolicited proposal outside the current competition.

The Army opened on Jan. 26 the second round of competition to develop light, blast-resistant trucks that would replace part of the Humvee fleet. General Dynamics Corp., Lockheed Martin Corp. and BAE Systems Plc won first-stage contracts in 2008 for technology development.

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