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US Army recompetes CROWS contract, royalty fee attached for outside vendor

A US Army Robotic Combat Vehicle-Light (RCV-L) prototype outfitted with CROWS-J. The service is currently hosting a CROWS recompete competition. (US Army)

The US Army has launched a Common Remotely Operating Weapon Station (CROWS) competition valued up to USD1.5 billion that allows companies other than the prime contractor, Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace, to vie for the deal. However, there is a caveat; other vendors must factor in a mandatory USD10,000 per system royalty fee for Kongsberg if they win.

In late August, the service issued a remote weapon station (RWS) request for procurement to cover continued support for fielded CROWS systems and for new designs. In essence, the service is asking vendors whether they can build the Norwegian company's RWS at a ‘better value' to the government.

“The programme will support new and emerging customer requirements to include RWS variants such as Abrams Low Profile, Navy Mk-50, United States Marine Corps (USMC) Amphibious Remote Weapon Station (ARWS), and Stryker,” the army wrote. Parties interested in bidding on the contract have until 22 November to submit their proposals and the service anticipates awarding a single contract worth up to USD1.5 billion.

The army said it intends to select the “best overall proposal” that it determines to be “advantageous and represents the best value to the government”. More specifically, service officials will evaluate the bids based on six factors: management; technical; sustainment capability; cost; past performance; and small business participation.

Regarding price, since Kongsberg is the CROWS prime contractor and the patent owner, the US government must pay the company USD10,000 in royalty fees for each system acquired from a different vendor. Because of this, any new company that wants to bid on the recompete deal must “adjust” their per-unit RWS cost to cover the fee.

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