Troubles Ahead for JLTV?

by: Matthew Potter
September 2, 2011

Category: AM General, BAE Systems, Business Line, Companies, Congress, Contract Additions, Contract Awards, Department of Defense, development program, Events, Federal Budget Process, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, production program, Proposal, Restructuring, Services, U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps | RSS 2.0

As the Pentagon re-evaluates its budget priorities in the coming months and years as it faces the potential for major reductions some new programs may be scaled back or cut. New systems that were a priority a few years ago in order to replace existing hardware that is now considered too old or not right for current operations may suddenly be seen as not necessarily being worth the amount of investment required. There are rumblings that the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) program to replace the ubiquitous HUMVEE made by AM General might be one of those being considered.

The HUMVEE began replacing the M151 Jeep in the Eighties and has seen steady production for almost thirty years. Tens of thousands have been made for use by all parts of the U.S. military as well as many allies across the globe. Faced with the mine and Improvised Explosive Device (IED) threat in Iraq and Afghanistan its level of protection and armament was found wanting. Different up-armored variants were made but a new program, JLTV, was started to replace it.

Last year the Army decided not to buy anymore for itself as it had reached the number it required. It looked like the HUMVEE line would close out. It remains open as there are still Foreign Military Sales (FMS) and the other Services are buying some as well as the Army deciding to keep some production. The JLTV program, though, was continuing with planned production starting in 2013.

The JLTV used competitive prototyping and is currently testing three different vehicles in the Technology Development phase of the acquisition cycle. Teams of companies including BAE Systems (BAE:LSE), General Dynamics (GD) with AM General, and Lockheed Martin (LMT) have built prototypes two of which will be chosen for the next phase; Engineering, Manufacturing and Development (EMD); which will then be the basis for the production decision. The JLTV due to the requirement for so many vehicles has the potential for billions of dollars in business over the next thirty years.

It is now being reported that the JLTV budget is being reduced which may cause schedule delays deferring when the JLTV enters service. The Army is also looking at starting a program to upgrade HUMVEE vehicles for itself and the Marine Corps. This would be cheaper then buying a whole new system and also delay the need for the JLTV.

If things get as bad financially as they have in the past then there may be a chance that the military is told to make do with what they have which would lead to elimination of the JLTV and the HUMVEE recapitalization program. No matter what happens the U.S. military is entering a period of a challenging budget climate and there may be more new programs in the same situation.

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