Goodbye JLTV? Hello Upgraded HUMVEE.

by: Matthew Potter
September 27, 2011

Category: Business Line, Companies, Congress, Contract Additions, Contract Awards, Department of Defense, development program, Events, Federal Budget Process, Oshkosh Truck Corp, production program, Proposal, Restructuring, Services, U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps | RSS 2.0

The U.S. Army as the lead service had been pursuing the development and production of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV). This would be the replacement for the ubiquitous HUMVEE which had already replaced the Jeep. The JLTV would take into account the demands of the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan which saw the primary threat being mines and Improvised Explosive Devices (IED). This would require roomier vehicles with much improved armor and also integrating new weapons such as CROWS and active defenses.

The JLTV program is currently evaluating three different prototypes from defense contractors with a goal of selecting one or two of them to go forward into production. This is similar to what the Defense Department did three years ago with the contest for the new Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle for use in Afghanistan. The new MRAP-All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) contest was ultimately won by Oshkosh (OSK) who built thousands for use in the rough and roadless terrain of Afghanistan.

In the FY12 budget working its way through Congress the Department requested a reduced budget for the JLTV reflecting potential schedule delays or a lower commitment to having a large quantity of the vehicles in the near future. The whole defense budget is under pressure and a new program may face greater scrutiny since there remain thousands of regular and up-armored HUMVEE trucks in use by the U.S. and its Allies.

The Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC) in their mark up of the bill took this a step further and zeroed out the program in FY12 and recommended it for cancellation. This may not be what the Department and Army want but the total program for the JLTV is significant due to the number of vehicles required.

At the same time the Army released last week a Request For Proposal (RFP) to upgrade and re-fit the HUMVEE fleet. This would add to the existing HUMVEE vehicles more armor, more power and newer systems. The contract would cover up to 100,000 vehicles. This contract if executed would also be significant.

In a budget with limited funding it might end up being one or the other program going forward.

Of course it all depends on what kind of bids the upgraded HUMVEE attracts. There is a chance that the cost to rebuild the older vehicle to meet requirements similar to the JLTV may cost more and take more time then carrying out the JLTV program. If this is so it would make more sense to do that.

This is one of the first of what will be many times that a new program will get reviewed due to budgetary costs with a chance of letting the older system stay on in service. Other potential programs that face this type of scrutiny include Navy shipbuilding ones, aircraft like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and systems such as the new Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV).

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