A $4-billion, U.S. Dept. of Defense contract is in play for three OEMs now that the Pentagon has chosen bidders for the engineering, manufacturing, and development (EMD) phase of its Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) program. The JLTV program will identify a replacement for as many as 130,000 of the U.S. military’s current fleet of HMMWVs (high-mobility, multipurpose wheeled vehicles, or Humvee) and MRAPs (mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles.)
The U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corp. issued bids to AM General LLC, Lockheed Martin Corp. and Oshkosh Defense to deliver prototype trucks for testing and evaluation prior to final selection. The prototypes will be used to select a final design, and a production contract is expected to be issued in 2015.
The Pentagon wants its new vehicles to be lightweight but still to provide greater protection, mobility, and transportability than the current vehicle standard. In essence, the goal is for the JLTV to have the off-road mobility of an unarmored Humvee with the armor protection that MRAPs offer versus mines and roadside bombs.
Defense planners capped the production cost at $250,000 per vehicle, and the initial production run will be limited to about 18,000 vehicles over five years.
The three companies chosen for the bidding have been awarded contracts for about $65 million and will be expected to deliver 22 prototypes within 12-14 months, for further testing and evaluation to be conducted over 27 months.
Each of the bidding contractors has already offered preliminary versions of their designs. AM General manufactures the current Humvee, and has submitted a proposal for a model called the BRV-O (Blast Resistant Vehicle- Off Road). It is said to handle better off-road than the current model thanks to self-leveling suspension, and also has increased armor and shock absorption protection. It’s able to carry up to 3,500 lb, and is powered by a fuel efficient, high-torque engine with a 6-speed transmission.
Lockheed Martin's JLTV structure is based on a Family of Vehicles (FOV) concept that will allow a high-degree of adaptation from the basic design for a range of functions. It is well armored against IEDs, and its transportability already has been tested via CH-47 and CH-53 helicopter airlifts.
The Oshkosh proposal is called the Light Combat Tactical All-Terrain Vehicle, or L-ATV. It has an advanced crew protection system that has been proven to optimize crew survivability, and it can accept multiple armor configurations. It incorporates the Oshkosh TAK-4i independent-suspension system, for off-road speed.
“The JLTV program is critical to supporting our troops who stand in harm’s way and deserve the best equipment that industry can provide,” stated John Urias, Oshkosh Corp. exec. vice president and president of the Oshkosh Defense subsidiary.
General Dynamics Corp., BAE Systems Plc, and Navistar International Corp. placed designs in the selection process but failed to win a place in the final bidding.